STARTUP FUNDING; Consortium Seeks To Speed Creation Of New Domain-Name Organization

Monday, September 14, 1998 A consortium of 13 Internet companies, led by IBM and MCI, is appealing to other corporations to help fund the startup costs of the new not-for-profit organization that will oversee the Domain Name System and perform other administrative tasks. By Todd Spangler Internet World
The fundraiser by the Global Internet Project–which its organizers hope will raise as much as $500,000–comes as the U.S. government is in the process of officially removing itself as the custodian of Internet governance issues. The government plans to let two contracts expire on Sept. 30. One is with Network Solutions Inc., which grants that company exclusive rights to register domain names within the .com, .net, and .org domains. The other is with the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), the administrative body that has managed the technical details of Internet addresses and protocol assignments. Now, members of the Internet community are in the process of hashing out details for a private corporation, referred to as the New IANA, that will take over legal authority for the DNS and IP address space. With the end-of-September deadline fast approaching, the members of the Global Internet Project wanted to act quickly to ensure a solid base of funding for the new non-profit corporation, said John Patrick, chairman of the Global Internet Project and vice president of IBM’s Internet services. “The thing I really want us to avoid is a long period of studying the situation,” said Patrick. “I don’t see any catastrophic scenarios [if the Sept. 30 deadline passes without the new corporation being operational]. We just want everyone to have confidence that the Internet will continue to grow and be self-regulating.” Business contributes Patrick said that five Internet companies–IBM, MCI, GTE Internetworking, Ascend Communications, and Cisco Systems–have already pledged a total of $135,000. He said the group’s target amount of half a million dollars would cover the first four to six months of the New IANA’s expenses. The consortium will not accept contributions from any government entity, Patrick said. Also, companies will not be allowed to contribute more than $50,000 each so that no single vendor will have a dominant role. “There’s really no way for any one company to have undue influence,” Patrick said. “It’s a very open discussion, and there are many companies participating in the dialogue.”

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