AOL, the longtime dialup king, who esperate to keep customers at its’ site who have switched to broadband, is offering free dot com and dot net domains. There are a few caches however, one must be in possession of a US mobile phone (cell) number. Luckily I have a cousin stateside willing to help out ;-) . I got to register NeilGrogan.com (My actual name) which I hadn’t bothered with before. AOL is the legal owner however, so has all the say legally to the name. At the minute it provides 100 2GB email accounts with the free domain, and if you visit the address online, it redirects to an AIM Pages profile of the owner (for all intents and purposes, it’s another social networking site). Its a good way to drum up interest in its online offerings, but they should be more flexible. If anyone is in any doubt, this is just an ‘alright’ kind of deal, AOL say they will give you the option to buy the name back in the future, but I won’t hold my breath.

I am a longtime Google Apps For your domain customer, which like AOL is totally free. Google however help you to register your own domain (which is not to far off market price at $10) so you legally own it. Google offers webspace (Google Pages), email (Gmail), Instant Messaging (Gtalk) and a start page. If anything AOL have a lot of catching up to do, but who knows, maybe Google will provide free registration in the future? It all depends on ad revenues likely garnered from the services they offer. Microsoft also offers a similiar service, but I have yet to try it out……