What’s in an E-Name?

When I first started thinking about designing an e-commerce system for our corporation, one of the first things that came to mind was “What is our dot com name going to be?”

At that time, we were known as the FoodService Purchasing Cooperative, so naturally I chose FPC.com as our domain name. My next chore was to insure that FPC.com was an available domain name. This is not too difficult a task, and can be accomplished by visiting Whois.net or Network Solutions Inc., a domain name registrar. By entering the domain name you want to use, you can find out whether a particular domain name is already in use and if it is, who owns it.

I quickly learned that the Florida Power Cooperative had beaten me to the punch, and had already reserved FPC.Com. So, off to Plan B, which consisted of reserving FSPC.Com.

After two years of being known to the cyber world as bob_lewis@FSPC.com, wouldn’t you know it, our company underwent a merger, renaming itself the UNIFIED Foodservice Purchasing Co-op. Back to square one.

UFPC.com was to be the new domain name, and luckily was available. However, if we ever want to create an UFPC.org (organization), we will have to do some heady negotiation with the United First Parish Church!

What else is in a name? Well, as of this writing, the whois.net site indicated that there were currently 12,041,679 registered domain names with 1,055,672 in an “on hold” status. Another interesting fact—Wired News recently checked 25,500 standard dictionary words, and found that only 1,760 (7 percent) were available in the popular .com domain.

One other 90’s word that has emerged from the Internet explosion is “cyber-squatter.” Cyber-squatters are individuals who have bought multiple common word domain names with the intent to make a substantial profit from selling the reserved name. Since the investor only has to pay $70 for a two-year registration of the name, there exists the possibility of a significant return on the initial investment.

 If the domain name you desire is already taken you basically have five options.

1. If the name belongs to a cyber-squatter, negotiate your best deal.
2. Wait for a while. Domain names have to be reregistered every two years, and if they are not, they are returned to the available category. Note: Network solutions recently purged 18,000 domain names due to non reregistration.
3. Wait until a new top-level domain suffix is released such as inc or biz.
4. Choose another domain suffix.
5. Register your desired name in a different domain.


A recent example of new domain emergence is the creation of the domain .nu, which was created by the country of Niue. You’re correct. I also had never heard of Niue, but now know it is an isolated island country 1,500 miles northeast of New Zealand. Since the inception of .nu 18 months ago, the domain has registered over 30,000 new .nu names on the Internet. To see for yourself, check out www.goodyear.nu.

Since its inception, there has not been a lot of structure in the organization and administration of the Internet. Our government recognized this shortcoming, and in October 1998 authorized the formation of The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN is a non-profit, private sector corporation, and has been designated by the U.S. Government to serve as the entity responsible for the management of the domain name system, the allocation of the IP address space, the assignment of protocol parameters, and the management of the root server system. ICANN is scheduled to transition from the U.S. Government by September 2000.

One of the most recent actions taken by ICANN was to allow the registration and renewal of URLs for up to 10 years. This change from two-year registration went into effect on Jan. 15, 2000. The standard fee for a 10-year registration runs between $299 and $350.

By now, like me, you probably have learned more than you would ever like to know about Internet names, so I will end with an appropriate quote.

“It can take quite a while for a Web page to appear on your screen. The reason for the delay is that, when you type in a Web address, your computer passes it along to another computer, which in turn passes it along to another computer, and so on through as many as five computers before it finally reaches the work station of a disgruntled U.S. Postal Service employee, who throws it in the trash.” -- Dave Barry, Dave Barry In Cyberspace (Crown Publishing, October 1996)

Related Information:

  • ICANN (new window)
  • Goodyear.nu (new window)