New Generic Top-level Domain Names
As of 12 January 2012, and for a period until 12 April 2012, it is open to organisations worldwide to register a gTLD (generic top level domain) which may include a word or combination of letters and numbers e.g. .bank.
A gTLD is the characters at the end of a domain name (except the country identifiers) for example, .com or .biz. Up until now there has been a set number of gTLDs to choose from, the most common being .com.
However, several years ago ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) announced plans for an expansion, which has now launched, and which will allow organisations to register their own gTLDs and not be bound by the current existing gTLDs. ICANN considered that with the number and diversity of internet users, it was important for the continued success of the global network to expand the gTLDs. This will mean in the months and years to come we will see a significant change in website addresses.
The costs in registering a gTLD will be fairly substantial and successful applicants will have to commit to operating a domain name registry for at least 10 years. It is likely therefore that only large international organisations will be in a position to create and register their own gTLD. As the successful applicants will also be required to run a registry they will have control over who will be able to register domain names and what can be registered. However, what is does mean is that there will be more variants on websites for smaller businesses.
If you have any queries about this, please contact Emma Hayward.