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The News Ė 03/02/01

Use Your Phone Number As A Web Address

Now hereís a bright idea for wireless users: Verisign (which now owns Network Solutions, the domain registrar) is beta testing a new service called Webnum. You can sign up to have your telephone number turned into a pointer to your Web site. This makes it easier for wireless Internet users. To access your site, users donít need to laboriously peck in the whole address on their keypads. Just cruise to the www.webnum.net Web site, enter the phone number, including country code (1 for US phone numbers) without dashes, press OK, and your phone browser goes right to the site.


You can try it now on your wireless phone by typing in my phone number, 19525251584. Note: if you use your computer to go to the Webnum site, it wonít work.


Right now, during the beta period, Verisign is not charging for this service. But you can be sure they will charge once itís released.


This scheme reminds me of the Internet Keywords offered by RealNames. This effort, which is supported by the major search engines, allows you to designate a key word or words that send users to your site. For example, I tried to register Internet Strategy as a keyword. Unfortunately, RealNames doesnít accept generic registrations. They would have accepted StratVantage, but I figure, if you need to use a search engine to find me, and you know my company name, the site will probably turn up anyway.


Anyway, despite being a pretty cool idea and despite support by the search engines, MSN, and AOL, RealNames havenít really caught on. I wonder how well Webnums will be accepted.




Verisign to (Eventually) Give Up .net and .org

In other domain name news, Verisign has agreed with ICANN, the quasi-governmental domain name authority, to give up itís monopoly on the .net and .org suffixes (AKA gTLDs, or generic Top Level Domains). VeriSign will operate the .org registry only through December 2002, and the .net registry through Jan 1, 2006. The companyís rights to the .com registry will expire in November 2007.


This new agreement modifies a previous agreement with ICANN that had Verisign spinning off its registry business by May of this year. ICANN stated that competition in the popular .com registry business had become so intense so fast that they didnít feel that Verisign had an unfair advantage any more.


With ICANN planning on having registrars registering several new gTLDS, such as .firm, .biz, .info, and .name, real soon now, there will be plenty of domain name competition. It could also get pretty confusing for businesses, what with new gTLDs and soon, new choices for registering .net and .org. †






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