Web domain expansion stalls

14 December 2010

SAN FRANCISCO: The planned creation of hundreds of top-level domain names to compete with the ubiquitous .com and .net has been postponed.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann), the global body that controls website addresses, faced objections from the US Commerce Department over the likely costs to users stemming from the service.

Icann will now seek further information from an advisory committee representing 100 national governments before implementing plans to simplify the creation of new web suffixes.

Such a delay offers a temporary reprieve for the many US brand owners who have expressed concern that the costs involved in registering a new tranche of domain names - necessary in order to protect trademarks from so-called "squatters” - will be heavy.

The new names at issue are known as "generic top level domains," and do not include suffixes such as .uk or .cn dedicated to individual countries.

While businesses are likely to be charged large fees for the right to administer the planned new endings, Icann claims that the economic benefits to brand owners will far outweigh the associated costs.

A spokesman for the body said that, while estimates of charges were at this stage "speculative," the gains to be made from the creation of new names such as .hotel were "entirely obvious".

Icann has also announced that it is to delay implementation of a plan to create a new top-level domain for the adult entertainment industry.

While the introduction of .xxx is now on hold until early next year, the regulator says it is going to press ahead with the introduction of non-Roman web characters in order to appeal to countries using alternative alphabets.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by Warc staff