If the area of Internet domain names seems set to become more complex than ever this year, with proposals for new national and international domains and private operators venturing into territory where nobody even knows the rules, the relationship between statutory and commercial players in the name game is becoming clearer. The result will hopefully be a better quality of both service and debate.
Not long before the Christmas launch of ISOCNZ's vastly improved Web presence for its registry activities (revised under the guidance of ISOCNZ's Patrick O'Brien), an Auckland company debuted a private counterpart, which offers not only name registration services, but current news and backgrounders on the issues involved.
NETRegistry is, effectively, a commercial mirror-image of ISOCNZ's own registry resources - its URL is http://www.registry.net.nz, as opposed to the official registry's address at http://www.registry.org.nz.
It will not, however, set itself in competition with the official body. Internet Address Company Limited managing director Peter Mott says his NETregistry service simply provides an easy way for customers to register domain names with the statutory bodies ISOCNZ and InterNIC.
"For most businesses the process of finding and registering a useful domain name can be time consuming and confusing" Mott says. "NETregistry is a simple interface that allows customers to choose and register the domain name of their choice quickly and easily."
To that end, the site allows customers can search for the domain name of their choice online, and to reserve the name for up to 12 months or activate the domain at the same time. Customers choosing reservation only receive an information web page and autoresponder email advising the sender of the contact details of the domain holder. Activation links the chosen domain name to the web and email at the customer's ISP.
Mott has also registered a freephone line, 0800 DOMAIN, which will take orders for domain names from customers not already on the Internet, and offers VeriSign security for credit card transactions. A mailing list covering news and changes to the site is available at no charge.
In keeping with the emergent tone of the local Internet industry, Mott is keen to "build partnerships" with content providers and web designers. "Smaller Internet service providers looking for a competitive edge by seeking to focus on their core business, might also be interested in talking to us."
One factor to watch will be how far Mott's commercially-driven style will be allowed to penetrate areas which have been the preserve of statutory and academic bodies. Some of his messages to the ISOCNZ mailing list have been viewed as tantamount to advertising by list members.