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A: I have seen a couple of ads for registering with .ws or .cc, if your ideal domain name is already a .com. Are these alternatives services on the up and up?
–G. W. James, New York City
A: It comes as no surprise that cyberspace is getting more and more crowded. Most people are familiar with three generic top-level domain names: .com, .net, and .org, as well second-level domain names, such as .gov and .edu. While Network Solutions and Register.com are the more commonly known registrars, there are some 22 registrars that compete for business. Part of the mix is some 250 top-level country code domain name holders such as .cc, which belongs to the Cocos Islands (in the Indian Ocean), and .ws, Western Samoa.
Country code domains work in the same way as generic domains; however, they may be subject to different rules, regulations, and fees, according to the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN; www.icann.com), the nonprofit entity that oversees the technical administration of the Internet. Network Solutions charges $35 per year and provides e-mail, dotcom directory, Web hosting, and 10-year registration. Register.com also charges $35 per year. In comparison, Worldsite.ws, a registrar for .ws domains, charges $35 for four-plus-letter names and $1,000 per year for three-letter names. ENic.cc, a registrar for .cc, charges $100 every two years.
For now, a moniker with a .cc or .ws suffix may not seem appealing. But the scarcity of prime dotcom names could soon change that. ICANN has been considering creating additional generic top-level domain names, such as .inc, .corp, .bank, .store, and .news.
Mail your technology-related concerns to Cyberwise at black enterprise, 130 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10011, or send an e-mail to email@example.com.