End of the Dotcom era as dotanything goes ahead

Jun 20, 2011
Eliot Sefton

ICANN votes to introduce new range of suffixes – at a hefty price

Is it a ground-breaking move that will tilt the internet away from its traditional Western-centric axis - or merely a cynical wheeze that will allow major corporations to fine-tune their marketing strategies?

The internet will undergo one of its biggest changes in decades over the next few years after the body which oversees the Internet address system voted in Singapore today to increase the number of domain names available for websites.

ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, will now allow anyone willing to pay $185,000 to register their bespoke suffix to an internet address - a move which is expected to see major corporations piling in.

Where previously the world of the web was confined to 22 workaday addresses as .com, .org and .net as well as 250 country-level domains such as .uk and .fr, the internet could soon see .coke, .ford and .yahoo. The Japanese electronics group Canon has already indicated its interest in .canon.

"Today we made history. It's the dawn of a new age. The Internet addressing system has just been opened up," ICANN president Rod Beckstrom said after the vote, which approved the changes by 13 votes to one with two abstentions. It is the biggest in the domain name system for 26 years since .com was first introduced.

The process for applying for a new suffix - which will no longer be limited to Latin characters but will expand to Arabic and Chinese scripts to - will open on January 12 next year and will be open for 90 days to anyone who can provide a legitimate claim on a certain name.

The hefty application fee should put off most putative cyber squatters, but anyone who does stump up the money with the aim of selling on their chosen suffix to a big brand which has been slow off the mark in registering their name will be expected to maintain a presence on the internet using their suffix.

While cynics might see this change as something that will only benefit global brands, location-based names such as .london could be obtained by organisations such as chambers of commerce which would then distribute them to their members - for example, plumber.london.

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