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The number of registered domain names on the internet has declined for only the second time in five years, according to Netcraft's December Web site survey.

Netcraft attributes the decline on the failure of speculators to renew registrations for domains bought at the height of the dotcom boom, in late 1999.

In the last three months the number of dotcom domains has dropped by about 130,000, Netcraft reports.

However it adds that "the introduction of the new domains like .biz, and increasing internet development in parts of the world", will offset this decline.

Netcraft believes a higher proportion of active sites can be expected as domains bought for speculative reasons are abandoned.

A previous decline in the number of registered Web sites, which was recorded in August last year, turned out to be a temporary blip, largely caused by the failure and business model changes of several hosting firms. ®

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