Education group to take reins of .edu Web domain

Educause, a nonprofit group that supports the integration of higher education and technology, has been chosen to take over as the manager of the Internet's .edu top-level domain.

In an announcement yesterday, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the Department of Commerce said it's negotiating a cooperative agreement with Educause to administer the .edu domain and its use by schools and colleges. Educause would handle both front-end registrations and administration of the back-end .edu domain name registry.

Mark Luker, vice president of Washington-based Educause, said his group, which is made up of 1,800-member colleges and universities and several hundred IT companies, will work to promote rules changes that could open the use of .edu to all qualified schools in the U.S. The .edu domain was set aside to accommodate the Web addresses of research groups and four-year colleges and universities.

That, however, has left some schools out of the picture, Luker said. "The largest missing link in the United States is the community colleges," he said. "They feel very strongly that they should be included. They're not included now."

The .edu domain is currently managed by VeriSign Inc. in Mountain View, Calif. VeriSign also handles registry duties for Web site addresses using the .com, .net and .org domains under separate contracts that were recently revised by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (see story).

A VeriSign spokesman said officials at the company have no qualms about the selection of Educause to take over the .edu domain. "They're going to be a good steward," he said.

An NTIA spokesman said the agency is negotiating a five-year contract with Educause and added that a final agreement is expected to be signed later this year. A full notice about the planned deal has been posted in the Federal Register.

In a statement, Stanley O. Ikenberry, president of the American Council for Education, said the designation of Educause as the .edu administrator is "an important step for the participation of colleges and universities in networked education. This proposal has our full support."

George R. Boggs, president of the American Association of Community Colleges, concurred. "Community colleges agree that admission to the .edu domain is very important, and we stand solidly behind the proposed assignment to Educause," he said in the statement.

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