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Europe Braces for Demand for '.eu' Domain Names

Domain name system relies on international standards and codes

New York, Dec 02, 2005

The European Union expects a rush of applications for registration of “.eu” Internet domain names when they become available for the first time beginning December 7.

Initially, the process will be limited to full names or acronyms of public bodies, registered trademarks and geographical territories within the EU, a restriction intended to prevent hording or fraudulent use of popular names by “cybersquatters.” On February 7, 2006, the release of addresses including company names, unregistered trademarks and certain titles of registered literary and artistic work will begin. Registration by any citizen or organization based in the EU opens April 7, 2006.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), are the entities responsible for coordinating the technical management of the Internet domain name system, allocating IP address space, assigning protocol parameters, and managing the root server system.

The Internet domain name system (DNS) relies on international standards and codes to structure itself. The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Standard RFC 1591, Domain Name System Structure and Delegation, specifies top-level domain names (TLDs), which include the generic TLDs (including the familiar .edu, .com, .net, .org, .gov, and .mil), as well as the two letter country codes from the International Organization for Standardization’s ISO 3166, Codes for the representation of names of countries and their subdivisions.

ISO 3166 country codes are used in national postal systems, passport readers, and currency transactions around the world. ISO 3166-1 supplies alpha-2 code elements that are used in the Internet as the country code top-level domain identifiers (ccTLDs). There are more than 240 ccTLDs in the Internet, such as .fr for France.

ICANN and IANA have also created a few ccTLDs (.ac, .gg, .im, .je, and .uk, for example) which are on a separate list of reserved ISO 3166-1 code elements. Earlier this year, ICANN's Board authorized the delegation of .eu as a ccTLD. EURid, a Brussels-based non-profit group, was selected by the European Commission to supervise the licensing of companies in each of the EU countries to sell .eu addresses to individuals who live in the EU and to companies with headquarters or branches inside the 25-nation bloc. A .asia name is also currently under consideration by ICANN.

While many European businesses use ccTLDs for their particular country, .eu supporters believe the regional domain will help promote European identity and the visibility of pan-European e-commerce.

"I expect a real rush, several hundred thousand in the first few days," said EU Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding on the opening of registrations. "European companies should waste no time and register for the new .eu domain name."

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