It's a wild, wild Web. With the registration of domain names in the midst of shifting from the government-run InterNIC to the privately-organized nonprofit ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), it's more confusing than ever for entrepreneurs to know where to register that much-coveted and business-critical URL.
Most people don't know there's no reason to pay more than $70 for the first two years and then $35 for each consecutive year to own their own domain name. With the doors swung open on a free market for domain name registrars, it's easy to miss the best deal. Resellers looking to profit in this new open market abound, and you can save a few dollars by knowing your needs and doing a little comparison shopping.
Some resellers, such as Domain Namereserve, charge the $70 Network Solutions fee, plus an additional $59 start-up fee and $28 a year for miscellaneous services you may not need or may already receive from your host ISP but just haven't used (such as e-mail forwarding and tech support).
Companies like Network Solutions don't charge you additional fees if you register your domain yourself. If you want to hire a service to do the registration paperwork for you, there are many reputable brokers (such as Register.com) that don't charge additional fees-but make their money by trying to sell you additional services. ICANN has recently assembled a list of accredited domain name vendors that don't charge additional registration fees. Visit them at www.icann.org/registrars/accredited-list.html.
Webgeek Karen Solomon (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes about technology and e-business for a number of publications, including Wired and Business 2.0.