ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) has recently approved the launch of the .ASIA sponsored top level domain. Whilst .ASIA domains are aimed at individuals and businesses based in the Asia-Pacific region, much like .EU domains which are intended for those with a presence in the European Union, .ASIA is likely to provide a useful inroad for companies trying to break into the Asian market.

More than 50% of the world’s population resides in Asia and it is quickly developing into a global force in the international, technical, commercial and economic network. Adopting the .ASIA domain name enables your business to target the online community in Asia. According to the DotAsia Organisation who will be administering the .ASIA domains “.ASIA will become a platform for growth for Asia, and a gateway to reach the largest Internet marketplace in the world”. In addition, registering .ASIA domains has been seen as a way of protecting your brand in the region and may assist in the prevention of cyber squatting.

The launch of .ASIA is currently in the ‘Landrush’ period which is open to anybody meeting the eligibility requirements. In order to meet the eligibility requirements one of the four contacts you provide for registration (registrant, administrative, technical or billing) must be based in one of the prescribed 73 countries. The prescribed countries stretch from Turkey through the Middle East to China, Japan, South East Asia and Australia.

During the ‘Landrush’ period which extends until 12 March 2008 applications can be lodged for your desired domain name. If more than one application is received for the same domain a closed online auction will be held. The highest bidder will win the right to the domain name. After this period the .ASIA domains will ‘go live’ on the internet on 26 March 2008. From this date .ASIA domain names will be allocated on a first come, first serve basis.

Clearly the launch of the .ASIA domain provides an exciting opportunity for business to extend their market into the Asia/Pacific area which should not be missed.