BT plans Internet registrar business

The UK's telecoms giant hopes to capitalise on the lucrative registrar market

British Telecom is planning a new business unit that will register domain names under the .com, .org and .net generic top level domains (gTLDs).

The latest list of successful applications issued by the Internet's governing body, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), includes the telecom giant together with 17 other companies from around the world.

Registering domain names is big business: Network Solutions, which until recently had the monopoly on gTLD registrations, built up a multi-billion dollar company on the business. In its fourth quarter ending 31 December 2000, Network Solutions registered, renewed or extended 2.6 million domain names. The company charges prices ranging from $25 for .org to $35 for .com domains -- average for the industry.

BT will become one of only a handful of telecoms companies providing or planning to provide domain name registrar services. Primus Telecommunications of Australia, in the US, and CCT Telecom Group in Hong Kong -- which is a part owner in HKNet -- all currently run domain name registrar businesses, as does France Telecom through the Oleane business which it bought in 1998. Deutsche Telecom has also been accredited as a registrar but is not yet operational.

BT was not immediately able to comment.

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