20-Jun-2011 13:11

Changes will create more internet domain suffixes.

The global internet body – Icann - has voted to allow the creation of new website domain suffixes, the biggest change for the online world in years.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) plans to dramatically increase the number of domain endings from the current 22.

Internet address names will end with almost any word and be in any language.

Icann will begin taking applications next year, with corporations and cities expected to be among the first.

"Icann has opened the internet's addressing system to the limitless possibilities of the human imagination," said Rod Beckstrom, president and chief executive officer for Icann.
"No one can predict where this historic decision will take us."

There will be several hundred new generic top-level domain names (gTLDs), which could include such addresses as .google, .coke, or even .BBC.

There are currently 22 gTLDs, as well as about 250 country-level domain names such as .uk or .de.

It will cost $185,000 (£114,000) to apply for the suffixes, and companies would need to show they have a legitimate claim to the name they are buying.

Analysts say it is a price that global giants might be willing to pay - in order to maximise their internet presence.

The money will be used to cover costs incurred by Icann in developing the new gTLDs and employing experts to scrutinise the many thousands of expected applications.

A portion will be set-aside to deal with potential legal actions, raised by parties who fail to get the domains they want.

The vote completes a six-year negotiation process and is the biggest change to the system since .com was first introduced 26 years ago.

Icann said it was beginning a global communications programme to raise awareness of the new domain names.

Existing Generic TLDs include:
• .com : companies, now broader
• .edu : educational institutions
• .gov : government institutions
• .int : international organisations, e.g. Interpol
• .mil : military organisations
• .net : networking technologies, now broader
• .org : non-profit organisations
• .arpa : first ever domain, now technical use
• .aero : air travel industry
• .biz : business alternative to .com
• .coop : co-operatives
• .info : information, but open for general use
• .museum : museums
• .name : personal names -
• .pro : professionals, e.g. doctors
• .asia: Asian websites
• .cat : Catalan language
• .jobs : employment websites
• .mobi : mobile phones
• .post : postal services
• .tel : telecoms
• .travel : travel

(Source: Icann & BBC Technology)

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