Net opened to new domain names

Net opened to new domain names

Dotcom era ends

Net opened to new domain names

Internet minders voted Monday to allow virtually unlimited new domain names based on themes as varied as company brands, entertainment and political causes, in the system’s biggest shake-up since it started 26 years ago.

good.food, learnto.salsa, glossy.lipstick—people and companies will be able to set up a website with almost any address by the end of next year if they have a legitimate claim to the domain name and can pay a hefty fee.

The Internet body voted to end restricting the domain names to suffixes like .com or .gov and will receive applications for new names from January 12 next year with the first approvals likely by the end of 2012.

And they can be in any characters—Cyrillic, Kanji or Devanagari for instance, for users of Russian, Japanese and Hindi. Groups able to pay the $185,000 application fee can petition for new updates to “.com” and “.net” with website suffixes using nearly any word in any language.

“This is the start of a whole new phase for the Internet,” said Peter Dengate Thrush, chairman of ICANN’s board of directors.

“Unless there is a good reason to restrain it, innovation should be allowed to run free.” ICANN’s decision culminates six years of negotiations and is the biggest change to the system since “.com” made its debut in 1984.

The expansion plan had been delayed largely because of concerns that new suffixes could infringe on trademarks and copyrights. High-profile entertainment, consumer goods and financial services companies will likely be among the first to apply for their own domain name in a bid to protect their brands, experts said.

“It will allow corporations to better take control of their brands,” said Theo Hnarakis, chief executive of Melbourne IT, which manages online brands for clients such as Volvo, LEGO and GlaxoSmithKline.

The surge in domains should help alleviate some of the overlap of names in the most popular suffixes, especially ".com", which has 94 million sites registered.

There are currently 290 country suffixes, such as “.jp” for Japan, “.in” for India and “.fr” for France, which typically are restricted to groups or individuals with a presence in the countries, and 22 open names that include recent additions such as “.tel” for telecommunications.


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