More than likely, you've never heard of the country of Niue. You've probably heard of Belize, however, and you may have even visited a Web site with a .cc domain name. Regardless of your familiarity with small countries and small parts of the domain name space, thanks to a series of agreements announced by VeriSign Inc. Wednesday, you'll now be able to register Web sites for any of the three through VeriSign-affiliated registrars.
VeriSign, which had previously contracted with ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the body which oversees the Internet's domain name address system, to administer the .com, .org. and .net top-level domain (TLD) names and provide domain name registration services, will now add the .nu (Niue), .bz (Belize) and .cc domains to its list of possible addresses. VeriSign, in turn, offers its services to over 80 registrars, through which users and companies can register the names in the particular TLDs they want. Registrations for .nu, .bz. and .cc were already on-going, but are now available to a broader base as VeriSign-partner registrars control the vast majority of the domain name registration market.
Every country is assigned its own country code TLD, with the United Kingdom getting .uk, China receiving .cn and Switzerland holding .ch, for instance. VeriSign has contracted with the holders of the country code TLDs for Niue and Belize, .NU Domain and University Management Ltd., respectively, to offer addresses in those domains to its customers. VeriSign also teamed with eNIC Corp., the holder of the .cc domain, to offer .cc domains to VeriSign registrars and customers.
Oh, and in case you're curious: Niue is a small South Pacific Island near New Zealand.