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Ascension Islands joins Internet domain rush

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UK firm Internet Computer Bureau (ICB) has begun targetting professionals, including doctors, lawyers, academics and accountants, following its acquisition of the rights to manage the obscure .ac Internet domain name. However, the domain's similarity to the well-known .ac sub-domain, used to indicate and academic site, such as Leeds University, leeds.ac.uk, may lead to confusion. The .ac name itself is owned by the Ascension Islands, a British dependancy in the South Atlantic whose main trade is fish. Its population is 1100. "They're selling their national asset and inviting any member of the Internet community to register," said Paul Kane, ICB's general manager. ICB charges £30 to register a .ac sub-domain and a further £30 per year fee. Certain sub-domains, such as .co.ac, .gov.ac and .ac.ac, fighter pilots may be pleased to know, are reserved for Ascension Island uses. Disputes over trademarked names will be handled by the Geneva-based World Intellectual Property Organisation. Further details are available at the nic.ac Web site. ICB already runs the .sh domain on behalf of St. Helena, and its activities are part of the current trend of trading in unusual national Internet domains. The former Soviet republic of Turkmenistan was, until recently, aggressively selling .tm addresses. Trade was suspended because some addresses "may be legally obscene in Turkmenistan", according to the registration Web site. More recently, the island of Tuvalu sold the rights to its .tv domain name to a Canadian broadcaster for $60,000.®

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