What’s in a name? If you live in the tiny Pacific nation of Tokelau, quite a bit. Its popular .tk suffix has allowed the country to add 10% to its gross domestic product as well as gain computers and net access for residents.
It all came about when Dutch entrepreneur Joost Zuurbier, the founder of Dot TK, decided to invest in a country level domain name in 2001. The hard part was convincing the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) that he should be allowed to have it.”
"It was a four year process,” Zuurbier. “They didn’t believe the contract or even the island were real and it was only because a member of the board had been to Tokelau in 1978that they finally agreed it was okay.” But it’s paid off. Today there are 1.6 million registered Dot TK domain names with around 10,000 more added each day. Registering a .TKdomain is free although users must agree to receive targeted banner and text advertising. Dot TK gives an undisclosed amount to Tokelau from every .tk sale, and that’s meant thetiny nation has added a remarkable 10% to its economy. It’s also meant much better communications. For several years they’d relied on satellite phones and radios before that. These daysthey use Voice over Internet Phones (VoIP). “Telephone revenue has gone down by 40% because everyone is using Skype," said Aukusitino Vitale, thegeneral manager of Tokelau’s telecommunications company Teletok. From just 12 computers, the number has skyrocketed to 200 that use a satellite broadband connection with free Net access. Thatmight not seem a huge figure, but then the population is only 1,500.