Network Solutions Death Star?

Lately Network Solutions Inc. has become the company everyone likes to hate, and I wonder if you’re one of them.

Since being ordered to end its monopoly on registering names in the .com, .org., and .net domains, NSI has been doing everything possible to tilt the new competitive playing field in its direction.

The company re-directed Internic queries to its own Web site. It closed telnet access to the Internic database (which it doesn’t really own). The company changed its pages so some new registrants think it now costs $119 (US$), not $70 (US$), to register a domain name. The company even sent e-mail to Web administrators bragging on changes at its site and wound up being accused of spamming.

Now NSI has launched a crackdown on “cyber-squatting,” the practice of registering tons of addresses in hopes someone will buy one from you for big money later on. The company reportedly purged 18,000 such names from its database in March because their “owners” hadn’t paid for them. NSI also curbed access to its top-level domain files, which can alert people about when a domain might become available.

The news peg here is you can still go into competition with NSI. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers is taking applications from new registrars to test a new system of name registration through April 8, 1999. By the end of the year, there will be several registrars of .coms, and NSI also faces competition from other, foreign domains that have signed up U.S. companies to populate them.

My question is, “Are NSI’s moves just the natural maneuvers of a monopoly about to face competition, or are they something more sinister?” If you were facing this situation, and you had shareholders, would you act any differently?

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