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The Council of Registrars (CORE), an international group which oversees Internet domain registration, expects seven new Top Level Domains (TLDs), the file extensions which denote the address of an Internet site on the network, to be available for a mid-February 1998 launch. The new TLDs --.firm (for businesses or firms), .shop (for businesses offering goods to purchase), .web (for entities emphasizing activities related to the World Wide Web), .arts (for entities emphasizing cultural and entertainment activities), .rec (for entities emphasizing recreation/entertainment activities), .info (for entities providing information services), and .nom (for those wishing individual or personal nomenclature, i.e., a personal nom de plume)--will add more choices when registering Internet names, particularly for commercial entities now grouped in the overly-crowded .com TLD.

In addition to adopting the new domain categories, CORE will foster greater competition in the domain registration process and thereby lower registration costs and improve service to users. CORE is in the process of expanding the number of registrars to 89 companies, which will compete directly and maintain a neutral, shared database.

Until now, the U.S.-based Network Solutions Inc. has had a monopoly on registration of the existing top level domains under an agreement with the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), the organization which pioneered much of the early work in setting up the Internet. The NSF announced last spring that it would not be renewing its agreement with NSI, which expires in March 1998.

The new domain system was first developed by the International Ad Hoc Committee, a group of delegates from many of the world's most influential Internet organizations. The committee published the Generic Top Level Domain Memorandum of Understanding (gTLD-MoU), an international governance framework for the administration and enhancement of the Internet's global domain name system. A policy oversight committee will address various public interest concerns, including developing a system of equitable dispute resolution mechanisms for dealing with conflicts between parties concerning rights to domain names.

For more information about the new domain names, CORE, and related issues, see the gTLD-MoU's website at www.gtld-mou.org.

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