Proposed changes by ICANN to the domain name system could see Australian firms paying anywhere between US$185,000 to US$500,000 for the prestige of owning their own Top Level Domain (TLD).
A TLD is the portion of a domain name that comes after the dot. Examples of a generic TLD would be .bhp or .telstra.
The new generic TLDs are an initiative of the non-profit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) which coordinates Internet Web addresses. Under current rules, approved local registrars hand out addresses in cooperation with ICANN.
Removing the cap off the strictly 21 TLD system will bring “innovation, choice and change” to the Internet, according to ICANN.
ICANN will need about three months and US$200,000 to evaluate TLD applications from organisations which local experts say will include medium to large businesses and religious groups.
The high price for TLDs will stop bogus applications and cover the cost of disputes between entities vying for the same name, according to Theo Hnarakis, the CEO of local domain registrar Melbourne IT.
“The fee is designed [to prevent] frivolous applications,” Hnarakis said.
“We are yet to understand ongoing license fees and other costs such as managing [sub domains] in a registering environment — companies have not baulked at the cost.
“ICANN will have to decide appropriate action for generic names like sun, sky, and united where there are disputes.”
The application process has tightened to avoid litigation arising from domain name disputes and cybersquatting. Dispute evaluations are presently not considered in the application process and registrars hand out domains to any paying customer.
Large corporations that can weather the economic fall-out will not be dissuaded from the application cost, according to Hnarakis, because the process will protect their addresses from attacks such as phishing.
“Some of our [clients] have several thousand domains across 250 jurisdictions, and I do not think the cost will prove an obstacle if it secures their intellectual property,” Hnarakis said.
However, he did concede that small business and domain name speculators will be deterred.
The TLDs will be available in languages including English, Arabic, Japanese and Chinese, which requires ICANN to review “several hundred thousand” string similarities that may lead to disputes.
ICANN and its associates will meet in Cairo in four weeks to hammer out details about the new system. “We will not see the real wave of interest until the details are finalised,” Hnarakis said.
Applications are expected to be accepted from mid next year.