Domain Names                          

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Domain name registration hit an all-time high of 64.5 million at the end of the second quarter, VeriSign has said.  The figure represents a seven per cent increase over the end of 2003, the internet domain name registry said. For the quarter, the number of registrations was 4.6 million, up 2.5 per cent from the first quarter. VeriSign said the growth in registrations last reached this level in the late 1990s, during the height of the dot-com bubble.

Under a contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), VeriSign operates the master database of all .com and .net domains. VeriSign collects a few dollars a year for each domain name from the approximately 200 ICANN-accredited registrars that sell domain names to the public.

Although .com domains continued to lead the list, country code top-level domains emerged as the fastest-growing group and now account for 39 per cent of all domain registrations. The most popular are .de for Germany and .uk for the United Kingdom.

Some of the key factors that spurred domain registrations and renewals include a spurt of activity by consumers and small businesses, and the availability of domain names in previously underserved markets, VeriSign said.

"The numbers of overall domain registrations, coupled with the number of lookups processed each day by VeriSign's global registry, indicate that internet users are setting up more Web sites and using those websites to perform commerce and communications on the internet in greater frequency than ever before," Raynor Dahlquist, VeriSign's acting vice president for naming and directory services, said in a statement.

VeriSign also reported that while .net is the fourth most popular domain, it accounts for 31 per cent of all webpage views and 32 per cent of business-to-consumer ecommerce transactions. It also has the largest number of hosts, or machines connected to the Internet. An earlier VeriSign briefing report in July noted a recent boost in ecommerce.