It’s been six years in the making and now it’s finally here. The Internet domain name space is expanding!
Initially there was ‘.com’, ‘.net’ and ‘.org’. Then a few more were added such as ‘.biz’, ‘.info’ and ‘.mobi’.
Now the gates have been opened for entrepreneurs and innovative businesses to create their own name space and I expect we will see an explosion of .names over the next decade.
I’m talking about the generic top-level domain (gTLD) program and iiNet is leading the way by being the first company in Australia to commit to the program.
So what is the gTLD program?
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the global body responsible for the domain name space, wants to see the name space diversify and expand past the existing 22 in operation. These generic top-level domains are the last word you see in a web address – for example the ‘.com’ in ‘www.google.com’ or the ‘.org’ in ‘www.wikipedia.org’.
With ICANN now accepting applications for any variation of domain name space I expect we’ll see some new entrants appear such as ‘.shop’ and ‘.web’. Which means you could register and buy a ‘domainname.web’ in much the same way you can buy a ‘domainname.com’.
However applications aren’t limited to new domain name ventures that compete against ‘.com’, I expect we will see a lot of organisations apply for what is dubbed a ‘.brand’ where the gTLD is for the exclusive use of the organisation, rather than for public registrations.
A gTLD is not a “domain name” it is a “name space” and needs to be operated in a secure and stable manner. It’s a corner of the Internet, ICANN refers to it as critical Internet infrastructure, and as such the obligations and requirements of the program require you to demonstrate financial strength and technical capability and is therefore not intended for individuals. Sorry, you can’t just go and apply for ‘.lol’ with a swipe of a credit card and a few clicks on a web form.
What is iiNet doing?
iiNet is adopting the .brand approach and will be applying for ‘.iinet’.
We are the first company in Australia to publicly say so and join the likes of the New South Wales and Victorian governments who are applying for ‘.Sydney’ and ‘.Melbourne’, and the AFL sports body who are applying for ‘.AFL’.
This means if our application is successful (we believe it will be), at some point in the future you can chop off the ‘.net.au’ from the ‘.iinet.net.au’!
There are branding and marketing benefits in having our own name space. It gives us incredible flexibility with our domain name strategies keeping in mind the domain name is a significant part of our online identity. Perhaps down the track my email address may look something like firstname.lastname@example.org
It cements our position as an innovator in the digital world plus it’s kinda cool that we will have our own corner of the internet, iiNet will be recognised as a registry on the global stage and will join the ranks of a handful of other registries like Verisign (who runs .com and .net).
When is this all happening?
OK, this is exciting but to be honest it’s a while away.
Applications close mid April 2012 and as I said before applying for a gTLD is not like applying for a domain name. The process actually takes anywhere between 9-18 months before we know if we have been successful or not. Then allow another 3-6 months to get the technical bits and pieces in place and we are looking at somewhere around 2013 – 2014.