Web Addresses Enter New Era
      Author:Sam Holmes/Christopher Rhoads     Source: http://cn.wsj.com     Release Time:6/22/2011 9:34:35 AM     View Times:10963
The dot-com era is over. Welcome to the dot-anything age.

The organization that regulates the world's Internet domain names Monday approved changes that will allow companies and individuals to potentially register any name they like in almost any language as a Web address, a step that could change the way users navigate the Web. Under the new rules, those who register names can use suffixes beyond the traditional .com or .net─or simply have a one-word Internet address.

Not-for-profit Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers, known as Icann, said the much more open─and potentially much messier─approach to domain name registration will spur a new rush of innovation. Companies could establish an identifying suffix for brand purposes, and experts say it could help banks or others keen to boost their online security credentials. It may also provide entrepreneurs an opportunity to generate new business by selling second-level domains.

'This may be the dawn of a new age of online innovation in the domain-name space,' said Icann Chief Executive Rod Beckstrom in Singapore Monday, adding, 'the Internet's addressing system has just been opened up to the limitless possibilities of human imagination and creativity.'

Adrian Kinderis, chief executive of Melbourne-based AusRegistry International─registrar for the country domains of Australia (.au), Oman (.om), Qatar (.qa) and United Arab Emirates (.ae)─is helping clients prepare their application for top level domains. He said the majority of applicants are either corporations looking to secure their brand identity or entrepreneurs looking for a valuable plot of cyber real estate.
For example, the registrar of the .doctor domain could make money by selling what are known as second-level domains─yourname.doctor, for example─only to licensed doctors. 'I could sell those for $1,000 a throw because you're adding value into the verification mechanism that exists within top-level domains,' Mr. Kinderis said.

A top-level domain name of up to 63 characters of just about any string of letters can be registered, Icann said. For instance, someone could turn 'asknotwhatyourcountrycandoforyouaskwhatyoucandoforyourcountry' into a domain, with no suffix. Applicants will need to spend $185,000 upfront just to apply for such a unique name, however, though traditional addresses would still cost a small fraction of that.

Icann will accept the first round of applications for addresses under the new rules from Jan. 12 to April 12. The first of the new domains could be online by late 2012.

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