Preserving uniqueness

Because does not own the domain names it sells, there is nothing to prevent other companies from signing people up on those extensions, potentially with the same names sold by

"The bottom line is the Internet is just like the telephone system. You need to have unique identifiers to make it work," said Andrew McLaughlin, chief policy officer for ICANN, who is critical of and other services that he believes risk making the Internet unwieldy.

"So far, all these efforts like have failed because people want the Internet domain system to be administered in the public interest," McLaughlin said.

Hernand acknowledged that other companies could register the same extensions, and perhaps even the same names, but he said those names would be worthless because few people would be able to access them.'s deals with EarthLink and the other ISPs means only names registered by will be accessible through those systems.

John Irwin, executive vice president of customer experience for EarthLink, which is carrying's extensions on a one-year trial basis, said the company is less interested in the political implications of using alternative extensions than in ensuring its users get what they want.

EarthLink will decide whether to renew its agreement with in early 2002, he said.

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