A Californian start-up is planning to add a host of new domain name suffixes to the current list of ‘.com’, ‘.net’ et al.

Pasadena-headquartered New.net, funded by web entrepreneur Bill Gross, aims to bypass the current internet bureaucracy to offer suffixes such as ‘.family’, ‘.tech’, ‘.sport’ and ‘.xxx’, charging $25 for each domain name registered under the system.

Gross’s venture was inspired by the torpid rate at which new suffixes are released by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers – the non-profit organisation established with the support of the US government in 1998 to administer domain names.

Although ICANN announced seven new suffixes late last year [WAMN: 17-Nov-00], contract negotiations and fears that speculators might ‘cyber-squat’ on names linked to commercial trademarks have delayed progress.

New.net is not the first company to try to issue extensions outside of the ICANN network of directory servers, but it has a unique strategy which it hopes will make it more successful than its rivals. It is currently in negotiations with various ISPs to install software which will recognise the new suffixes. Customers of an ISP involved in the scheme type in a domain name ending with one of New.net’s extensions, and the software will automatically add ‘new.net’ to the end of the address, directing the user via the existing web infrastructure to the company’s group of servers.

New. has already signed Earthlink, Excite@Home and NetZero to the scheme, making the new suffixes available to about 16 million surfers, plus any web users who choose to download software allowing their browsers to recognise the extensions.

Although it remains to be seen whether site-owners will buy domain names currently accessible to relatively few online consumers, Gross is confident: “We think we can get to a tipping point where millions and millions of users rush to use it,” he predicted.

Other suffixes under consideration by New.net are ‘.shop’, ‘.inc’, ‘.chat’, ‘.travel’, ‘.video’, ‘.free’ and ‘.kids’ – the latter rejected by ICANN for fear of misuse by people without children’s best interests at heart. New.net also plans to allow San-Diego based music service MP3.com to become the exclusive reseller of the extension ‘.mp3’.

News source: Wall Street Journal