The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann), the body that coordinates Internet names, has voted to allow the creation new website domain suffixes.
It is the biggest reform made to the Internet's Domain Name System since the creation of '.com' 26 years ago.
The Board approved a plan to dramatically increase the number of Internet domain name endings -- called generic top-level domains (gTLDs).
Prior to the reform, 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 reform, website's internet addresses will be able to end with any word or combination of letters their creators choose.
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.
Icann reportedly plans to allow companies and individuals to be able to apply for custom web endings from 12 January 2012 to 12 April 2012.
The application process is apparently going to be a long and expensive one. Just applying for a custom domain ending will cost $185,000.
In a bid to stop large companies’ hording domain endings, any application will also be required to show a legitimate claim to the name they are buying for.
We have provided a platform for the next generation of creativity and inspiration, said Peter Dengate Thrush, chairman of ICANN's board of directors.
The money will be used to cover costs incurred by Icann in developing the new gTLDs and employing experts to scrutinise the many thousands of expected applications.
A portion has also been put aside to deal with potential legal actions, raised by parties who fail to get the domains they want, while a small portion will be set-aside to deal with charities that cannot get the endings they want.
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.