Icann announces web domain name expansion

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Icann approves revision of domains

Historic changes to the internet's domain name system have been agreed.

Today the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) has voted in support of an Applicant Guidebook that could change the look of the web dramatically. The document outlines how any institution can place an application to operate a generic top-level domain (gTLD). Until now gTLDs were limited to just 22 including .com, .co.uk and .net; it will now be possible for suffixes to be made of any word in any language.

The Icann board voted in Singapore with 13 approving, 1 opposed and 2 abstaining. Peter Dengate Thrush, chairman of Icann's Board of Directors, said: "Today's decision will usher in a new internet age. We have provided a platform for the next generation of creativity and inspiration." The positive decision comes after many years of debates with the internet community, governments and business groups.

What will come next?

Icann has seen much press coverage in recent years, particularly regarding the much deliberated decision to establish the domain name .xxx. With the new Applicant Guidebook in place any business, government or not-for profit organisation will be able to submit an application for a gTLD of their own. Applications will be accepted from 12 January to 12 April 2012.

The new capability will allow organisations to be creative and original with their domain offerings. It will also allow businesses to position and market themselves in new and exciting ways on the web. The way people find information online will be affected dramatically and the ability to set domain name suffixes in any language allows for greater inclusion of non-English speaking countries.