On Monday 20th June 2011, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) finally approved the long awaited plan to implement one of the biggest changes ever seen in the Domain Name System. During a special meeting, the Board agreed to allow the increase in the number of Internet domain name extensions — called generic top-level domains (gTLDs) .
Currently there are 22 gTLDS, the most familiar of these are the .com .net .org .info, with the new plan being approved Internet address names can potentially soon end with almost any word and be in any language. Applications for new gTLDs will be accepted from 12 January 2012 to 12 April 2012.
Rod Beckstrom, President and Chief Executive Officer of ICANN has been quoted as saying “ICANN has opened the Internet’s naming system to unleash the global human imagination. Today’s decision respects the rights of groups to create new Top Level Domains in any language or script. We hope this allows the domain name system to better serve all of mankind”
The decision to proceed with the gTLD program follows many years of discussion, debate and deliberation with the Internet community, business groups and governments. The Applicant Guidebook – a rulebook explaining how to apply for a new gTLD – went through seven significant revisions to incorporate more than 1,000 comments from the public. Strong efforts were made to address the concerns of all interested parties, and to ensure that the security, stability and resilience of the Internet are not compromised.
No-one can predict where this decision will take us. The application of a new gTLD is a costly process and will require a great deal of investment regarding the infrastructure, implementation and maintenance. It will be the decision of the successful applicant as to whether they wish to offer the new extension as a commercial concern and what are the restrictions for registration are, or whether they wish to retain it as an exclusive ending to be used by a closed, protected brand / community. Naturally as the plan unfolds our Domain Name Specialists will be working closely with the Domain Name Management clients to keep them informed and ensure they are protecting themselves where necessary.