Internet overlord ICANN has unanimously voted to begin the process of relaxing the rules for generic top-level domain names (gTLDs), in a move that means companies and other organisations eventually could run their own domains.
eBay, for example, could run the domain .ebay, and Microsoft could run the domain .microsoft. Currently, the endings of top-level domain names are limited to a few which include .com, .net, .org, as well as individual country codes such as.uk for the UK.
Prices to register these new domain names, expected to be anywhere from $150,000 to $500,000, would most likely prohibit individuals from applying for new domain names. ICANN said the high fees would allow it to recoup the approximately $20 million it expects to spend on implementation of the new policy.
Groups applying for new top-level domain names must also prove they are technically able to operate websites or they must contract with a company that does. New gTLDs will probably start appearing by the end of 2009, ICANN said.
Domain-name registrars, meanwhile, are divided on the merits of the introducing the new TLDs.
"This is a great thing for us and our customers," said Jon Nevett, vice president of Policy and Government Affairs at Network Solutions, and the elected representative from the registrar constituency at ICANN. "I think we'll see some innovation in the marketplace and some ideas that we would never think about. Some people will be applying for new TLDs that are very innovative and creative and will hopefully change the landscape of domain name services."