The average person's computer looks up a name by consulting their ISP's DNS server, which consults the "root" DNS servers. And the root DNS servers only recognize the well-known domains such as .com, .edu and .gov, along with the many two-letter national domains like .us, .uk, .br, .eu and .tv.
The only way to get into the domain name databases recognized by the root DNS servers is by registering your site with a domain name registrar that participates in ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. You can find a list of accredited registrars on the ICANN site. Every company that sells .com domain names is either on that list, or reselling the product of a company that is on that list.
Participation in ICANN requires deep financial pockets. So registrars must charge their customers for domain name registration. Some do offer domain names at a steep discount, often in hopes that you will buy additional services.
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