Internet access in Belgium

As interest in the Internet is growing very rapidly in Belgium, so is the demand for domain names. Within in the Internet domain names refer to organisations, services and computers. The registration process creates a database which maps the name to the numbers - IP addresses - used for Internet routing. Within a country the (local) registration office has the important task to ensure that new names are inserted in the database and that this database remains accessible within the Internet.

Since 1989 the Department of Computer Science of the K.U.Leuven is running the registration office in Belgium: Prof. P. Verbaeten is the administrator of the be domain; staff members of the department are responsible for the database running on departmental computer systems.

Till the end of 1993 the registration service was mainly a service offered to the research community in Belgium. Starting january 1, 1994 mainly requests for commercial organisations are processed. The workload has been growing continuously; it is currently too high to expect that university staff can continue to deliver this service for free.

For almost two years the registration office has been working together with the major Internet service providers in Belgium - BELNET, EUnet, IBM Global Network, INnet, Skynet and TFI- to define in consensus registration rules and procedures. In 1995 nearly all service providers have contributed to the working cost of the registration office.

In consensus these Internet service providers and the registration office have decided to introduce charging for domain names in Belgium. They have choosen for the rental model, as it is introduced in the USA and other european countries. In this model a registration cost is paid when a new name is added to the database; this cost also covers a one year usage. For each additional year a rental fee has to be paid. In Belgium the registration cost is fixed at 4000 Bfr (excl. VAT, please note that this is the registration cost at dec 1995, today the price is 2500 Bfr.) and the rental cost at 3000 Bfr (excl. VAT, today 2000 Bfr.) (correct at dec '95). Compared with prices in other european countries these costs are relatively low. This was possible by defining a standard service to be delivered by the registration office; this also means that the service providers agreed to cooperate closely with the registration office to make this possible; service providers can decide to act as an intermediary between their clients and the registration office; this reduces the work to be done by the registration office and allows for a further reduction of 1000 Bfr for registration and rental fees.

An advisory board is set up to overview the operations of the registration office. Members of this board are representatives of the Internet service providers which are contributors of the the RIPE NCC and which do have international Internet connectivity. They already agreed with the service definition document, prepared by the registration office. The board will also take decisions in case of conflicts about names between the organisation requesting a name and the registration office.

Registration cost will be introduced starting january 1, 1996. For already existing domains the rental cost will be requested starting january 1, 1997; in this way a one year advance notice is given to all organisations which are currently using domain names.

We expect that most service providers will include registration and rental fees in their pricing schemes; if an organisation has a contract with such a service provider, it doesn't have to take care of the yearly payments to the registration office. It should also be said that nothing will change for individuals: they do not have a domain name; typically they are using the domain name of the service provider giving them access to the Internet.

Funding obtained through the collection of fees represents another step in the move to make the Internet self- supporting.

If you connect your computer system(s) to a network, you can choose a domain name for your organization in the ".be" domain.

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