New top level domain endings

22 July, 2011

ICANN, the global internet body responsible for managing domain name systems, has approved a plan which could lead to a huge increase in the number of top level domain endings.

Currently there are only 22 of these in existence, including such familiar endings to web addresses as .com, .org and .net. They do not include country level domain suffixes, such as .co.uk.

The changes allow top level domains in any language or script. This means that there can now be domain endings in alphabets such as Cyrillic, Arabic and Chinese, which could lead to increased use of the internet in regions where these alphabets are used. Top level domains will also be able to be tailored to an organisation’s name or location. For example, applicants can apply for geographical strings such as .london or commercial strings such as .coke.

Businesses now have the opportunity to brand and market their products online in different and innovative methods. They will no longer be constrained to using such top level domains as .com or .org for their website. The result is that there may be a greater freedom to market their online presence.

Whether businesses decide to take up this opportunity remains to be seen. It is possible that businesses will continue to use familiar domain endings such as .com and .co.uk as these are the most popular and recognisable. But at the same time more innovative domain endings could help to boost a product’s online presence. However the high costs of applying for a domain, £141,000, may mean that only larger companies and organisations are willing to pay this amount in order to exploit their internet presence.

Applications for the new top level domains will start to be accepted from 12 January 2012. Applicants will have to meet high technical standards and show a legitimate claim to the domain. Standards to meet will include IT robustness, strong intellectual property protections and a team who will be able to monitor any abuse of the domain.

 

Reviewed in 2015