The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) has admitted that it could be at least 10 years before the proposed generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) are fully adopted.
The new rules, which were approved at an Icann meeting in Paris last year, will allow the creation of any TLD with up to 64 characters, including regional suffixes, generic words and brand names, effectively allowing large brand owners with sufficient cash to become TLD registries.
Although the process has been delayed as Icann gathers feedback, the first batch of gTLDs are still on course for availability by the end of the year, according to Icann chief operating officer Doug Brent.
"We think the programme is on schedule, but in the end we'll factor in comments, see where we are and ensure that we accommodate any concerns before moving ahead," he said.
"I would expect this is a process that rolls out over a decade or more in terms of seeing full adoption of gTLDs and seeing what its destiny will be."
Brent claimed that there had been interest from some quarters, including cities such as New York and Berlin, and celebrities such as Al Gore, who is interested in a .eco TLD. However, there has been no firm declaration of intent from any parties.
He added that gTLDs offer brands "a better indication of who they are on the web than second-level domains". He gave the example of a large company that could obtain a new gTLD and roll out second-level registrations to customers to enhance their relationships, such as eBay might with its power sellers.
Brent was also bullish about Icann's prospects of holding on to its role as the internet oversight body, after claims from several quarters that its relationship with the US Department of Commerce, which comes up for review at the end of September, is unfair.
"Icann has always viewed itself as independent. We have a close working relationship with the Department of Commerce, but everyone at Icann aspires to be representative of the global internet," he said.
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