Internet oversight body Icann has finally begun accepting applications for new generic top level domains (gTLDs) in a program which has been seven years in the making and could give any organisation the right to create, own and run any domain name they choose.
The first application period will run from 12 January to 12 April with interested parties requested to use the TLD Application System (TAS), which comprises 50 questions laid out in the Applicant's Guidebook.
The new scheme promises to hugely expand the number of gTLDs on the internet beyond the 22 that exist today such as .com and .net.
It will effectively give organisations the right to create any TLD with up to 64 characters, including regional suffixes, generic words and brand names and run it as that domain's registry, creating possible domains like .pepsi, .car and .london.
As such, the application procedure is more expensive than usual at $185,000 and contains provisions to rigourously screen any applicants for criminal records and other checks.
The cost of the application has been pegged at such a high level by Icann because of the number of checks it has to perform, but also as it will help to dissuade cybersquatters from registering a brand name they are not entitled to with the intention of extorting money from it.
It's still unclear how the new gTLDs will affect the market, with some believing it could lead to an end of multiple defensive registrations, with firms instead committing all their marketing spend on the one domain.
While the high fee won't be a problem for big firms, it could prove a barrier for the majority, according to Andreas Edler, managing director of registrar and hosting firm Hostway UK.
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