Cyberspace expands with new .info code for website names

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You've heard of dot coms ­ but in eight days' time you may start hearing too about "dot infos", when the internet grows a new frontier overnight with the press of a button.

You've heard of dot.coms ­ but in eight days' time you may start hearing too about "dot.infos", when the internet grows a new frontier overnight with the press of a button.

The new internet suffix ­ ".info" ­ will be introduced on 27 September, and will create a raft of "domain names" for websites and e-mail in cyberspace.

But the early signs are that the hopes of network administrators that it would relieve the pressure to have a name ending in ".com" were misplaced. Companies and individuals and especially advertisers who already felt that the internet economy had turned to lethargy feel unexcited about the prospect.

Nor have the events of last week helped. Afilias, the company in charge of accepting registrations for .info sites, said yesterday it was delaying the start of public visibility for the sites until 27 September, instead of the scheduled start of today. "With deference to all affected by the tragic circumstances, Afilias felt it necessary to make some schedule changes," the company said.

That will probably not help, said one observer. Chris Bura, president of, a company which makes its money from letting people stake claims to domain names on the Net, said: " and the other internet suffixes that are coming in the next few months, such as and, are for a while going to be the ugly stepchild of"

The ".info" domains are "open for registration by anyone or any entity for any purpose" ­ unlike the ".com" sites, which are primarily intended for businesses. The other new suffixes, which will be phased in ­ with .biz arriving on 1 October and .name on 13 December ­ are the first expansions of the internet's domain names since the mid-1980s, when it was created. There are 253 domain name suffixes, principally for the different countries around the globe and the subdivisions of domains within them, such as ".gov" for governmental sites, ".org" for nonprofit organisations and ".net" for other sites.

Some 24 million domain names have been registered. The new ones were created to ease the perceived pressure on the .com domain name "space" by Icann, the internet corporation for assigned names and numbers, last year, reacting to pressure in the late 1990s when excitement about internet businesses mushroomed almost out of control.

Now, things are different. "There's a certain amount of burn-out," said Jeff Harmes, an intellectual property lawyer. "The shortage of domain names has eased considerably. A lot of domain names are becoming available again because businesses that used them went out of business."

* A new internet "worm" based on the Code Red program that wreaked havoc last month began circulating yesterday, and rapidly infected "tens of thousands" of computers. Known as "Nimda", the worm infects Web servers running on Microsoft's Windows operating system, and then gets them to try to infect 10 more by scanning internet addresses for susceptible machines.