The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the body that coordinates Internet names, has voted to allow the creation of new website domain suffixes by private companies at a special board meeting in Singapore on Monday.

The Board approved a plan to dramatically increase the number of Internet domain name endings -- called generic top-level domains (gTLDs). Prior to the vote, just 22 generic top-level domains (gTLDs) exist such as .com, .org and .info plus about 250 country-level domains like .uk or .cn.

Under the changes, Internet address names will be able to end with almost any word, and be in any language so several hundred new gTLDs are expected to be created.

It is one of the biggest changes ever to the Internet's Domain Name System since the creation of '.com' 26 years ago.

The ICANN's Board of Directors voted 13 in favor, 1 opposed and 2 abstaining. The decision follows many years of discussion, debate and deliberation with the Internet community, business groups and governments.

ICANN has opened the Internet's naming system to unleash the global human imagination. Today's decision respects the rights of groups to create new Top Level Domains in any language or script. We hope this allows the domain name system to better serve all of mankind, said Rod Beckstrom, President and Chief Executive Officer of ICANN.

The move is seen as a big opportunity for brands to gain more control over their online presence and send visitors more directly to parts of their sites -- and a danger for those who fail to take advantage, Reuters reported.

ICANN will soon begin a global campaign to tell the world about this dramatic change in Internet names and to raise awareness of the opportunities afforded by new gTLDs.

Applications for new domain names will be accepted from 12 January 2012 to 12 April 2012. It will cost $185,000 to apply, and individuals or organizations will have to show a legitimate claim to the name they are buying.