The Internet Grows Up
Domain Name Services No Longer Subsidized by Taxpayers
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As interest in the Internet rises beyond belief, the demand for domain names has gone beyond the National Science Foundation's ability to continue completely funding the service. Network Solutions, based in Herndon Virginia, provides registration services for the non-military portion of the Internet under its cooperative agreement with the NSF.
Domain names are Internet "addresses" -- and the registration process creates a database which maps the names to the numbers used for Internet routing. When Network Solutions began operation in spring of 1993, new domains were being registered at a rate of 400 per month. In October 1994, this number reached 2,000 per month and it is estimated that by the end of the year, the figure will top 20,000 per month. This incredible demand has created up to a five week delay in registering new domain names.
While the NSFNET, an Internet precursor, was created to serve the research and academic community, currently less than three percent of domain names are higher educational (.edu) or government (.gov) -- most are commercial users (.com).
Effective September 14 , an annual fee of $50 will be charged for the registration of second level domain name in each of the top level domains maintained by Network Solutions (.edu, .gov, .com, .net, .org). (Examples of second-level domains include: nsf.gov, netsol.com, mit.edu, aol.com.) New registrants will pay a $100 fee for a two-year registration; and thereafter will pay $50 per year. Organizations registered prior to September 14 will be charged the $50 annual fee on the anniversary of their initial registration. The fees will be charged ONLY to second-level domain name registrants in the five top level domains for which the InterNIC provides registration services.
These fees do not affect the typical end-user who now subscribes through a commercial service such as CompuServe, Prodigy and America Online nor will they impact campus or business users who access a local network from their desktop, dormatory or home. (Military addresses, identified by .mil, will continue to be handled by a separate registration authority supported by the Department of Defense.)
Consistent with its responsibility to support networking in the academic research community, the National Science Foundation will continue to defray the costs of registration in the .edu domain. NSF will also pay the fees for current .gov registrants for on an interim basis to allow government agencies time to identify an alternate source of funding.
"This system represents NSF's continued efforts to privatize the commercial aspects of the ever-growing Internet, while still providing oversight and supporting the research and academic community," said George Strawn, director of the division of networking and communications research and infrastructure. "It also addresses a pressing need as NSF funding for domain name services expires October 1."
Funding obtained through the collection of fees represents another step in the move to make the Internet self-supporting and less reliant on tax dollars for support. In April, the NSF decommissioned the NSFNET and instituted a new architecture provided by commercial companies.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.
Useful NSF Web Sites: