ICANN has begun accepting applications for new generic top-level domains (gTLDs), which could see websites end in such domain name extensions as .shop, .nyc, .irish and .music
ICANN has planned out the process to expand the number of TLDs on the web to include new words in many different languages. They may be able to include words in non-Latin languages, such as Cyrillic, Chinese and Arabic.
There are currently about two dozen TLDs in existence, such as .com, .net and .org, but this new project could see them grow into hundreds. Already, there have been applications for .shop, .web, .nyc, .music and .irish.
ICANN has emphasised that if a company, organisation or city applies for a new gTLD, they are applying to run a registry business, taking responsibility for all domain names registered under its gTLD. They will need to set the rules and price for registering the gTLD and must comply with the obligations of ICANN’s registry agreement. ICANN will vet candidates carefully in the application process.
It will also prove to be a costly matter, as Irish domain registrar Blacknight says the cost of running a gTLD is around US$1m.
“Getting your own domain extension is not the same as simply registering a domain via a registrar,” said Michele Neylon, CEO of Blacknight.
“With your own domain name extension you would have a lot of freedom, but you also have a lot of responsibility, as well. While it might be suited to an organisation, group, city or big company, it probably isn’t something that most individuals would consider doing, unless they were multimillionaires with a strong tech and legal teams,” said Neylon.
ICANN will be offering limited financial assistance for qualifying applicants which will take the form of an evaluation fee reduction, which could let a limited number of applicants pay a US$47,000 evaluation fee instead of US$185,000, or community pro bono services.
It will accept applications up until 12 April and it will publish the full list of applicants from early May. Once the new gTLDs have been chosen, registrars will offer them for sale, which is expected to happen from 2013 at the earliest.