The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has signed off on the creation of a new .melbourne top-level domain, with the new TLD passing ICANN's initial evaluation process.
The decision means that URLs ending with .melbourne could be available as soon as next year. The initial evaluation period assesses the financial and technical ability of an applicant to operate a TLD.
The .melbourne application scored 26 during the evaluation for technical capability, with a minimum score of 22 required for ICANN approval. In the financial assessment it scored 11, with eight the minimum score acceptable to ICANN.
A "conservative" estimate prepared by ARI Registry Services, which helped the Victorian government and City of Melbourne apply for the new top-level domain, indicated in excess of 27,000 applications for .melbourne domain names can be expected.
"We expect to see considerably more names in the space as the public certainly have rallied around the announcements and we are buoyed by the market response," ARI Registry Services CEO Adrian Kinderis said.
"The new gTLDs are certainly gaining momentum the closer they get to their launch later this year. This will be a game changer in the way we interact the internet."
The order in which ICANN evaluates applications was determined by a lottery, with Victoria's application for .melbourne ranked 350 out of the 1900 or so TLD applications. NSW's .sydney application ranked 1352.
All up, more than 30 Australian businesses and other organisations applied to operate new TLDs, including three of Australia's 'big four' banks, a number of universities, Australia Post, Telstra and the AFL.
A statement from ARI Registry Services said that organisations interested in a .melbourne domain are "advised to stay tuned for a launch announcement expected in the coming months".