The Internet as we know it may soon be changing forever. From January 12, 2012, to April 12, 2012, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is expected to accept applications for new generic top-level domain names (gTLDs) to the right of the dot, where .com is now.
New top-level domains can be generic names (such as .shoe), geographic names (such as .nyc), or even trademarks (commonly referred to collectively as “.brand” domains). The new system will permit companies to own domain names that consist of just their trademarks, without the .com or other gTLD. These new gTLDs also will be available in non-Roman scripts, such as Cyrillic, Chinese, or Arabic.
Such new top-level domain names won't be cheap. The filing fee alone is $185,000, with no guarantee the name will be awarded. The operating costs of running the registry for the new top-level domains may also be substantial, depending in part on whether the public will be allowed to register "second level" domains (such as nike.shoe) or if the domain name space will be restricted to use by only one company (such as .nike). Running a registry requires extensive technical capability and the costs of outsourcing this responsibility over the ten-year commitment could reach into millions of dollars. New top-level domains are not for everyone.
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