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Register your domain for free

PC World

(IDG) -- The monetary price of a domain is dropping to zero, but you'll have costs other than cash. Network Commerce has hatched a scheme to boost its business by giving away .com, .net, and .org domains to anyone through a new Web site called DomainZero.com, which is launching Wednesday.

Once registrants find that perfect name, they "legally retain the rights to their domain," says Dwayne Walker, chair and chief executive officer of Network Commerce. It typically costs $70 to register a domain for two years with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. Also, nearly 100 companies are domain name registrars.

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DomainZero.com appears to be the first to offer free registration without accompanying banner advertising.

The free deal is one-to-a-customer, and Network Commerce uses cookies and IP detection software to thwart abusers of its offer. The only catch appears to be that, to get your free domain name, you must sign up for a whopping 18 e-mail newsletters through Network Commerce. The newsletters cover topics such as "HOT tips on COOL sites," "MS Outlook 2000," and "Relationship Advice."

Fees for Leaving

You can build a new site using your free domain, or point it to an existing site. Also, your domain can be your primary e-mail address to be used to forward messages to any existing e-mailbox.

DomainZero.com competes with NameZero.com and NameDemo.com (a division of Register.com), in free domain name registration. However, the other services display advertisements in a frame below your Web site.

"We have now broken down the barrier to entry for any small business to get online," Walker says.

Domain name holders renew their domain registration with DomainZero.com yearly. DomainZero.com charges a $20 fee if you decide to register your domain with another service at any time.

By comparison, NameDemo.com charges $35 to transfer your domain name to Register.com service. NameZero.com charges $15 for the transfer. NameZero.com representatives claim 1 million people have registered domain names since the site launched last April.

E-Business Boost

Ultimately, Network Commerce hopes to attract small-business owners and entrepreneurs who will take advantage of its large stable of electronic-business services. Some services are free, and the company's FreeMerchant.com service hosts Web pages and provides e-commerce tools. Other services are credit card processing and direct marketing--stuff you'll learn about in the newsletters.

In the free e-services space, Network Commerce competes with the likes of eCongo.com and BigStep.com. Both charge for additional services and domain registration.

The DomainZero.com service is a boost for Network Commerce, says Kneko Burney, an e-business analyst for Cahners In-Stat Group. Network Commerce is the leader of the nine free e-business providers she tracks.

"For micro businesses, a $35 to $70 savings (in registration fees) might just be enough to get them online," Burney says. Free e-business services are a good fit for tiny companies and hobbyists, she adds. However, experts warn free services are subject to performance issues and are often less flexible when creating a Web site. And the longevity of some service providers with no obvious business model is always in question.




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RELATED SITES:
DomainZero.com
Network Commerce
ICANN
Cahners In-Stat Group

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