ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, has given the go-ahead on plans to create generic top level domain names which would enable brands, organizations, governments and so on to create their own TLDs, in the likes of .nyc, .canon, .sports and so on.
The idea is to enable a lot more flexibility in domain names and to offer those interested new ways of customizing their domains and improving brand awareness.
However, critics say this will lead to confusion and problems for companies which may seem compelled to secure generic top level domain names related to their brands, for fear of others abusing the system and getting those domains before them.
"ICANN has opened the Internet's addressing system to the limitless possibilities of the human imagination. No one can predict where this historic decision will take us," Rod Beckstrom, President and CEO of ICANN, said.
"Today's decision will usher in a new Internet age," Peter Dengate Thrush, Chairman of ICANN's Board of Directors, added. "We have provided a platform for creativity and inspiration, and for the next big dot-thing."
Now that the proposal has been approved, ICANN will start a 'communications' period during which it will explain to the world how the new gTLDs work and why they're useful. It will also continue to accept feedback and suggestions.
However, applications will only start from 12 January 2012 and will last until 12 April 2012. Following this, the initial evaluations will be made available in November in the same year and the new TLDs will eventually go online sometime in 2013.
To prevent opportunists from flooding in, there will be an initial "sunrise" period during which companies will be able to secure gTLDs related to their trademarks and brands.
Creating a new gTLD will cost $185,000 up front and an additional $25,000 per year to maintain. The steep cost is also designed to keep out those looking for a quick buck. ICANN believes between 300 and 1,000 of these new TLDs will be created at first.