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There are now over 100 million .com domain names on the internet.

The milestone was passed in either October or January, depending on how you measure "registered" domains. But whichever way you cut it, .com is now into nine figures.

VeriSign, which runs .com, revealed yesterday in is monthly report with industry overseer ICANN that on 31 October 2011 it had 100,540,971 domains in its .com registry.

That represented a net increase of 690,243 names over September's number. ICANN registry reports are published three months after the period they cover, for competitive reasons.

Another way to count domain names is to look at the published zone files, which provide the daily, authoritative list of which domain uses which name server.

According to companies that track the .com zone file, the 100 million mark was passed in late January. RegistrarStats counted 100,052,046 .com domains yesterday. HosterStats, meanwhile, saw 100,045,666 on 1 February.

Inactive domains – that is, domains without name servers and names that are on the verge of expiring – are counted by VeriSign but do not show up in its published zone file, which explains the discrepancy between the zone file and the registry.

Judging by its growth patterns – regularly adding about 500,000 net new names per month – VeriSign very likely has over 101.5 million names in its registry today, but we won't know for sure until April.

The company is allowed to charge a maximum of $7.85 (£4.96) per year per domain. Its current contract with ICANN enabled it to raise prices by 7 per cent in four out of six years, opportunities it grasped with both hands most recently with a $0.51 increase two weeks ago.

That contract expires in November, and the company recently revealed that it is already in talks with ICANN about signing a new one. Under its current deal – signed when the two parties settled an antitrust lawsuit in 2006 – renewal is "presumptive".

Due to .com's colourful history, the new Verisign-ICANN .com agreement will also have to be officially approved by the US Department of Commerce.

According to a recent Verisign research report, there were 220 million domain names in total – including all the non-.com suffixes – in September 2011. ®

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