Their warnings follow a key meeting in Santiago, Chile, of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) – the organisation set up by the US government to oversee and accredit new companies from across the world bidding to enter the Internet address business.ICANN was established after Washington announced its decision to end the exclusive monopoly it had previously granted to the US information technology firm Network Solutions to allocate Internet addresses – the memorable names given to hide the strings of numbers which actually form those addresses.Under the planned new system, new market entrants would be able to offer a service to firms wishing to set up Web sites using the ‘.com, .org and .net’ endings known as ‘generic top-level domains’ (gTLDs), which are already used by the world’s biggest companies. Their task, previously carried out by Network Solutions, would be to compile and keep a database of ‘secondary’ level names (such as the ‘European-Voice’ in European-Voice.com) – ensuring that firms’ Web sites appear on computer screens when their address is entered into the Internet browser.Commission sources described as a “great step forward” plans unveiled at the Santiago meeting for a uniform dispute settlement procedure for companies and organisations unhappy with the services of the new registrars. But they voiced concern about the decision not to appoint a board or council for ICANN until the beginning of next year, warning that the delay would hit ICANN’s plans to choose new top-level domains to add to the already overloaded .com, .org and .net names which Network Solutions currently administers.Commission officials said they were still waiting for a detailed reply to a letter which the institution sent to Washington in June voicing concern that other parts of the new system could discriminate against EU Internet market entrants.The warning reflected fears that the US government has not done enough to break Network Solutions’ stranglehold on the Internet names market.Under the US government’s plan, Network Solutions would be allowed to continue to as ‘registry’ controlling the overall administration of .com, .org and .net top level domains until October next year. In the meantime, competition among new ICANN-approved registrars for administering second level names using the ‘.com, .org and .net.’ endings is being phased in.Network Solutions has already developed a computer programme to ensure the names that rival registrars approve do not clash with each other. The Commission has voiced concern that Network Solutions would continue to act as a registrar for these parts of Internet addresses, but would not be forced to seek ICANN approval. New registrars would also be forced to put-up a 100,000-euro ‘performance bond’ which, according to the Commission, would be a major barrier to new market entrants. At the same time, it warned, the new system would make it difficult for companies to move from the US firm to a rival registrar.