New Domain Names Coming

New Domain Names Coming

By Danny Sullivan
July 27, 2000

Yes, it looks like new top level domain names may finally be coming -- but what they will be, how they will be assigned, and whether they will actually be used remains undecided. So, don't panic.

Meeting earlier this month, ICANN -- the group that oversees the domain name system -- approved a plan to accept applications from those who wish to administer new domain names. Anyone who wishes to pay a US $50,000 non-refundable fee can pitch ICANN on their top level domain proposal.

For example, someone might propose .xxx as a domain extension for pornographic web sites to use. Another proposal could be .food, for any type of food web site. As long as you pay the fee, ICANN will consider your proposal. However, that doesn't mean the proposal will be accepted.

ICANN is not suggesting how the new domain names will be assigned, how trademarks might be protected or offering any guidance on regulation. That will be left to those proposing the new names to establish.

I have my doubts about the usefulness of the new names, given the way existing top level domain such as .net, .org and .tv have been devalued from their original meanings. Perhaps ICANN will accept proposals only from those who will not allow the meaning of any new domains to be perverted. Even if so, it still seems likely companies will be required to register even more names to protect their brands -- and perhaps pay much more money than for registering current top level domains.

The articles below provide a rundown on the plan to accept proposals. ICANN expects to provide application details on August 1, with the deadline for proposals on October 1. Negotiations with the first round of finalists are to be concluded by the end of this year, which means new top level domain names might be available at the beginning of next year.

Meeting of the ICANN Board in Yokohama
ICANN, July 16, 2000

Report of ICANN's recent decision on top level domains, from ICANN itself.

Goodbye Domain Names, Hello RealNames?
The Search Engine Report, May 3, 2000

My previous article on problems with the domain name system and why systems like RealNames might ultimately be more successful than new top level domains.

The Domain Name Game
Electronic Commerce Guide, July 24, 2000,1467,9561_421681,00.html

Who is ICANN, and how did it end up in control of the domain name system? Background about the group and how you, as an ordinary person, can still participate in its actions.

ICANN Addresses Domain Name Crunch
Inter@active Week, July 24, 2000,4164,2606333,00.html

Details on how many new top level domains may be initially allowed, plus concerns over the high cost of submitting proposals.

Overview: Cyber-Brawl Brewing Over ICANN and New TLDs
@NY, July 21, 2000,1471,8471_420461,00.html

Anarchy and expense is predicted from the entry of new names.

New TLDs Approved by ICANN but Doubts Remain
@NY, July 18, 2000,1471,8471_417361,00.html

Summary of the ICANN decision, with concerns about implementation.

New Top-Level Domains in Sight
The Standard, July 17, 2000,1151,16880,00.html

Another good summary of the ICANN action.

Go-ahead for new web names
BBC, July 16, 2000

Summary of the ICANN decision, with comments that it won't solve trademark concerns.

NSI accused by rivals of hoarding domain names, July 21, 2000,176,465,00.html

One argument for the need of new top level domain names is that there aren't enough good .com names left. Now it turns out that Network Solutions may be keeping back some names that should be available for use.

To Each His Own Domain
ClickZ, July 19, 2000

Humorous look at suggested top level domains, such as .ick.

I want my own .tv
Salon, July 24, 2000

.tv is supposed to be the top level domain for the island nation of Tuvalu, but a private company has been given the right to sell the names for those seeking an alternative to .com. Great details on the business plan, where generic names are auctioned off for between US $1,000 to $1 million.