Prices for '.com' and '.net' will rise

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By Anick Jesdanun, Associated Press
NEW YORK — The master-keeper of Internet addresses ending in ".com"
and ".net" — two of the most popular domain name suffixes — said
Thursday it would raise fees charged to register those names.
The annual levy for ".com" will increase 7% to $6.42, and the ".net"
fee will go up 10% to $3.85. The per-name fees are what VeriSign
collects from companies that sell domain names on its behalf, and such
charges are generally incorporated in the prices companies, groups and
individuals pay to register names.

With about 62 million ".com" names and 9.1 million ".net" names in
use, VeriSign stands to ultimately make $29 million a year from the
increase, which will take effect Oct. 15.

However, the price hike applies only to new name registrations and
renewals, and customers can lock in the old prices until Oct. 14. Many
brokers, known as registrars, offer multiyear deals for up to 10
years; Network Solutions, formerly owned by VeriSign, even offers a
100-year package.

VeriSign runs the Domain Name System computers that keep track of all
the ".com" and ".net" names in use. Computers from around the world
check them continually to find out how to reach ".com" and ".net"
websites and pass along e-mail.

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The Mountain View, Calif.-based company said the fee increases, the
first since 1999, stem from a need to keep up with growing online use
as well as threats from hackers.

"Over the last six years, VeriSign has dealt with two phenomenons when
it came to the infrastructure," VeriSign spokesman Tom Galvin said.

He said VeriSign's DNS computers now get 30 billion queries a day,
compared with 1 billion in 2000, while security exploits have grown
eightfold over that period.

In February, the company announced Project Titan, an initiative to
expand the capacity of its systems tenfold by 2010 — to 4 trillion
queries a day. The extra capacity is needed to respond to any unusual
surges from legitimate demand, as well as to overcome any
denial-of-service attacks, in which hackers try to overwhelm the
systems with fake traffic.

The price hike does not require any regulatory approval.

Under a deal reached in November with the U.S. Commerce Department and
the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the
non-profit group that oversees Internet addressing policies, VeriSign
could increase ".com" prices as much as 7% during four out of the six
years the contract is in effect. The company may also raise fees
during the other two years under limited conditions.

VeriSign also runs the computers that list all 266 domain name
suffixes, such as ".fr" for France and ".biz" for businesses. Fees for
other domains aren't going up, but VeriSign could use the ".com" and
".net" revenue to subsidize upgrades.

VeriSign shares increased 1 cent to close at $25.65 Thursday on the
Nasdaq Stock Market.

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