Corrections or additions?

This article by Barbara Fox was prepared for the October 18,

2000 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

A Website in Every Pot?

Every person on the earth could have a website with

their name on it, if all goes according to the Sarnoff Corporation’s

proposal. Sarnoff is pitching a plan to the powers-that-be to provide

the technology platform for every human being to have a domain name,

to use for a website or for a universal messaging system.

James Carnes, CEO of Sarnoff, says his company wants everyone to have

a domain so they can participate in the advantages of Internet access.

Sarnoff’s Shailendra Suman says that, if the plan gets approval from

the governing body ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Name and

Numbers), Sarnoff could provide the technical specifications for every

person to have a different "domain name," usable for all Web

connected devices. The suffix for these domain names, or URLs, would

be called "dot-I" (as in www.JohnDoe.iii or www.JohnDoe.i).

A number of other organizations are proposing innovative naming

procedures

to ICANN, and there is no guarantee that Sarnoff’s proposal will win.

But if it does, Sarnoff will launch yet another spinoff, called

NextDNS

(Domain Name System). The website, www.nextdns.com, is being put up

this week.

NextDNS would organize a people-centric Top-Level Domain (TLD) issuing

system with an open environment — device neutral, services

neutral,

and technology neutral. "We create a platform and others will

come," Suman says. "A lot of new applications could be

developed.

It could create a whole new industry."

"We are not a vendor of devices, software, or access services

for the Internet, so we have no incentive to favor one mode of access

to dot-I over another," says Suman. "We also have a long

history

of forming or working with international industry coalitions. We have

helped create global standards in such enabling technology as MPEG-2

and MPEG-4 and were a leader in the Grand Alliance that created the

ATSC standard for HDTV."

A native of northern India, Suman has a bachelor of science from the

Behar Institute of Technology and a master’s degree and an MBA from

the University of Minnesota. He worked at Northern States Power and

PS&EG before coming to Sarnoff to be executive director eight months

ago. Eight Sarnoff employees are working on the project so far, he

says, but many business partners are also involved.

Suman says that some of the domain names might be given away free,

others might be sold for a fee. Free domain names and websites are

already provided by other companies, but these names must be attached

to another organization: JohnDoe@whatever.com. Otherwise, individuals

or businesses must go to a domain name provider, such as Network

Solutions,

to buy a top level domain name. Network Solutions started out

distributing

the suffixes for .com, .net, and .org, but additional suffixes are

available now from other TLD providers.

NextDNS is in competition at ICANN with other TLD sellers, but Suman

says that the Sarnoff price structure is 1/10 of what Network

Solutions

has proposed. Says Suman, "There are 30 million businesses but

1/2 billion potential Internet users, so the cost of the system will

be very little. We are looking to give a lot of domain names away

free."

What happens when there is more than one John Doe? Individuals can

differentiate themselves, says Suman, by using combinations of names

and numbers, similar to the way E-mail is assigned by AOL. Or people

could add the suffix of their titles, Esquire or MD or RN. Or they

could add a gender-based title, like Mrs. Or they could merely

represent

themselves with numbers, perhaps their phone number.

NextDNS would be poised to take advantage of the future convergence

of the Internet with telecommunications and television. "Under

this plan an executive in Belgium can use a web-enabled cell phone

to get vital information on personal business through a dot-I domain.

A grandmother in Iowa can use her new TV to reach out to her

grandchildren

in San Francisco. Students in Beijing can access their domains through

classroom PCs." Says Suman: "It is a very simple idea, but

very big."

— Barbara Fox


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