On 20 June 2011, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) - which manages the domain name system - approved the launch of a procedure for introducing new generic top-level domain name extensions (gTLDs). Under the current system there are 22 gTLDs and 253 country code TLDs available for purchase. In theory, the newly announced system will allow any established corporation, organisations or institutions in good standing to apply for new gTLD extensions such as “.london”, “.sport” or “.pepsi” in any language or script.
We say “in theory” that anyone will be able to apply for a gTLD extension because the reality of the situation is that when making an application, the applicant is in fact applying to create a domain name registry business for the suggested extension and will have to comply with a substantial number of technical and financial requirements. Also, the process will consist of a lengthy electronic application form and an initial fee of US$185,000 with additional fees of $50,000 plus being likely. This does not include the costs of preparing the application or of either setting up or maintaining a registry business. Predictions about the number of applications vary. It is currently estimated that about 400 to 1000 applications will be filed within the first 90-day application window, which is due to start in January 2012. With so many new gTLDs floating around, critics point out that only a few will prove profitable, the others will be left struggling to market their new extensions.