From: Justin Mason (email@example.com)
Date: Wed Dec 13 2000 - 08:00:11 PST
Tuesday, 12 December, 2000, 16:07 GMT
Net gains for Tuvalu
By BBC News Online internet reporter Mark Ward
Demand for internet domain names is improving the lives of the
inhabitants of the tiny pacific nation of Tuvalu.
In 1998, the country signed over the rights for its .tv internet name
to Canadian company Idealab. The deal has seen millions of dollars
flow into the nine islands that make up the nation from organisations
desperate to have the two letters round off their web address.
The influx of money is paying for a new school and other
But Tuvalu is only one of several countries cashing in on the
resemblance between their internet suffix and common words or phrases.
Many nations have been assigned a two-letter suffix used to identify
websites run or used by companies, organisations and people from that
country. Britain's country code suffix is .uk.
By coincidence some of the country codes resemble common
abbreviations, perhaps none more so than .tv which is owned by Pacific
island nation of Tuvalu.
After repeated enquiries from speculators and companies, the
government of Tuvalu auctioned off the rights to the .tv domain name
to a Canadian entrepreneur. In return for permission to use the name,
Tuvalu was guaranteed $50m over 10 years and a 15% stake in the
company selling rights to domain names ending .tv.
Now, the $1 million per quarter being given to the Pacific nation is
starting to change the lives of its 10,600 inhabitants. The nine
islands making up the country cover only 24 square kilometres of land
but are scattered throughout 1,060,000 square kilometres of the
Craig Frances, chief executive of the dotTV company, said the deal had
effectively doubled the GDP of Tuvalu. Roads are being laid, outlying
islands are being wired up to give them electricity, and a school is
being built on the main island.
"Right now all the kids have to go to school on another island and
they come back at the weekends," said Mr Frances.
The next big change will be to make it easier to get to and from the
main island. Mr Frances said the runway of the Tuvalu's airport was
being extended so a 737 could land and take off. This will allow
Tuvalu to export food for the first time.
"The land is not fertile at all," he said. "The only way they can make
money is through fishing and fishing licences."
The deal with dotTV also allows Tuvalu to end links with the phone sex
services that it previously used to make money. In return for a cut of
profits, Tuvalu used to lease its 688 phone code to phone sex
companies, a policy that troubled its Christian population.
The money has also been used to fund Tuvalu's membership of the UN
which demands annual fees of $20,000. Tuvalu became the 189th member
of the UN on 5 September this year.
Tuvalu is just one of many nations cashing in on the fact that its
country code resembles a well-known phrase.
Others include Moldavia (.md), Turkmenistan (.tm), Niue (.nu),
Philippines (.ph) and Tonga (.to). So far .tv is proving the most
popular and around 170,000 organisations have registered a domain name
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