Chicago (IL) - ICANN today approved a plan that removes virtually all limits from URL extensions, which are currently limited to 21 top level domains (257 including country codes). According to the plan, every extension, even your name, a city or could be registered and free up an enormous range of new Internet addresses.
If you have followed the arguments and decisions about top level domain additions in the past, you will be scratching you head over today’s news from ICANN. The organization plans to get rid of virtually all top level domain restrictions that are in place today.
According to the proposal, domain name applicants will be able to "self-select" their domain name, which means that possible domain names may not even be limited by the world’s dictionaries: "It is expected that applicants will apply for targeted community strings such as (the existing) .travel for the travel industry and .cat for the Catalan community (as well as generic strings like .brandname or .yournamehere). There are already interested consortiums wanting to establish city-based top level domain, like .nyc (for New York City), .berlin and .paris., ICANN said.
The plan also calls for an extension of the supported character set of current domain names, which is currently limited to 37 Roman characters. "One of the most exciting prospect before us is that the expanding system is also being planned to support extensions in the languages of the world," said Peter Dengate Thrush, ICANN’s chairman. "This is going to be very important for the future of the Internet in Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Russia."
"The Board today accepted a recommendation from its global stakeholders that it is possible to implement many new names to the Internet, paving the way for an expansion of domain name choice and opportunity" said Paul Twomey, president and CEO of ICANN. "The potential here is huge. It represents a whole new way for people to express themselves on the Net. It’s a massive increase in the ’real estate’ of the Internet."
According to a recent survey by Netcraft, the Internet currently consists of 172,338,726 websites.
ICANN said that a final version of the implementation plan must be approved by the ICANN Board before the new process is launched. It is intended that the final version will be published in early 2009. If approved, ICANN expects that applications for new names could be made as early as the second quarter of 2009.