This week, Paris is playing host to a meeting that may change the face of the Internet as we know it. The international nonprofit group ICANN will vote on (and likely pass) new procedures in assigning new generic Top Level Domains or gTLDs. The move is a response to the Internet’s massive growth that threatens to use up most of the existing domain names by 2013. The proposal will make URL restrictions much more relaxed than ever before, except for the 64-character limit. Among the changes that may happen are:
New domain zones. No longer limited to “.com,” “.gov” or “.net,” companies may opt to purchase “.dell”, “.google”, “.apple” and so on – something that may cause a mad dash at the registries. In a marketing perspective, may be a potential gold mine.
ASCII and IDNs. The proposal grants the use of new ASCII (“.at&t”) and foreign characters (e.g. Cyrillic in Russia) for International Domain Names (IDNs), unlike the current system that only allows characters from the Latin alphabet. This is to give people more choice and gives a big boost for localized content.
From previous studies conducted, experts found no serious technical hurdles to implement the proposal. The biggest hindrance will probably be financial, as prices for some of these new specialized domains can be steep. While there are no solid figures yet, sources say the costs may range from US$30,000 to $50,000. I’m sure Google won’t mind it, though. Whether the cost of current domain names will suffer a huge drop as a result of these changes, we shall soon see.
If you’d like to read more on it, visit ICANN’s New gTLD Program page.