The organization that manages Internet domain names has agreed to changes that will dramatically increase the number of possible site names while opening up new branding opportunities for companies, cities and others.
The change was overwhelmingly approved Monday in Singapore in a vote of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. ICANN is expected to begin taking applications for the new names early next year.
Under the changes, site registrants will be able to invent their own suffixes in place of the handful of suffixes now available, such as dot-com, dot-org or dot-gov. Major companies are expected to create suffixes with their own names, while the German capital city has reportedly expressed interest in a dot-berlin suffix. Other suffixes could help organize the Internet by language, geography or industry.
The new suffixes are expected to sell for $185,000 plus an additional $25,000 a year, putting them out of reach of ordinary Internet users. Nevertheless, ICANN is expecting a rush of applications as entrepreneurs jostle for a marketing advantage.