An aggressive price promotion in China of website domain names with the ".cn" top-level domain helpedspur a fivefold increase inthe number of websites using the suffix, according to the company that operates many of the web's core directories.

The price promotion — which reduced the fee to register a website domain name to approximately 14 cents Cdn for the first year — led to a 402 per cent growth in domain names registered with ".cn" from the previous year.

VeriSign Inc.'s quarterly brief on the internet's domain names, released Wednesday, said China had slightly less thansix million domain name registrations by midway through 2007.

There are about 885,000 domain names registered with the Canadian ".ca" top-level domain, according to the Canadian Internet Registration Authority.

VeriSign Inc.'s quarterly brief found country-specific top-level domains— the suffixes attached to the end of website names— grew to about 51.5 million, 36 per cent more than the previous year.

Leading the growth along with China were Russia (.ru) and South Korea (.kr), VeriSign said.

The number of domain names registered globally on the internet grew to more than 138 million midway through 2007, a 31-per-cent increase over the previous year.

The top-level domain ".com" remained the most popular, with Germany's ".de" and ".net" the second and third most popular. China's ".cn" moved into the number five position, just behind the United Kingdom's ".uk."

VeriSign, which oversees the directories that keep track of the ".com" and ".net" suffixes, said those names grew to 73 million domain name registrations.

There are currently 267 domain names suffixes around the world. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (or ICANN) oversees domain names and approves all top-level domains.

In October, the latest top-level domain name, ".asia", will begin assigning domain names. ICANN assigned the suffix to reflect the growing traffic in the continent.