Friday, June 27, 2008

Top level internet domains for dollars

If you have a spare US$50-100,000 you may be able to buy your own top-level internet domain from ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers).

ICANN moderates top level domains around the world. These domains, such as .com, .net, .com.au and .gov.au, are the basic naming structure of the internet and control what organisations and nations can do online.

Previously there were very tight controls over the naming structure and an extensive review process before new top level domains were created - of which very few were.

However the new regulations effectively allow any organisation - private or public - to register top level domains, subject to a much simpler review process and a payment.

I do not expect to see much impact on government in Australia - the .gov.au domain is well established and strongly mandated. However it now becomes much easier for states or councils to consider different naming - such as .nswgovernment or .sutherlandshire

In the private sector it's hard to say - previous releases of top level names have not seen significant attrition from the .com (or .com.au in Australia) names, but the alternatives haven't been that much better.

However with any top level domain name now possible, there is the possibility for greater fragmentation.

Time will tell.

More information on this decision is available at ItNews,
ICANN proposes greater top-level domain name flexibility.

There's also a good opinion piece over at VentureBeat, ICANN threatens to change the rules of the domain name game

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