Internet domain names in regulator shake-up

The familiar endings to online web addresses could become much less common, after domain name regulators open the floodgates...

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

If ever you’ve tried to register a new domain name online, you’ll know that all the best ones have been snapped up already. But this may soon be less of an issue for small companies looking to build their online presence: the regulatory bodies that control internet domain names will this week roll out hundreds of new endings such as name.sex and name.group. 

The new domain names are expected to crack the dominance of the technology giants in their marketplaces. As it stands, there are only 22 domain endings you can have (excluding country names such as name.co.uk), including name.biz and name.org. This Wednesday the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in the US, will expand the list of possible domains into the hundreds. The body was set up by former president Bill Clinton and has spent the last six years trying to make the market more inclusive.  

Whilst Wednesday 13 June is the official ‘Reveal Day’ for the new domains, this will be just the start of a process that potential owners will have to go through. This includes a feedback and objection period for domains which companies have already applied for. In statement, ICANN said that some new domains will be ready to use by early 2013, but others ‘will have a longer path’. 

So far, however, there is nothing to suggest that larger existing companies will not simply buy up all of the relevant domain names containing their company name. Well, nothing except the monstrous price tag that some of the names carry: reports today said that technology firm CentralNik has applied for 60 domain names, (which include name.group, name.college and name.gay) and that each application cost $185,000. 

So if large companies want to own all 300-odd new domains, it will cost around $55m. Hardly a cheap exercise, and hardly the domain of SMEs...geddit?

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