June 13 - An unprecedented land grab for new Web addresses began in earnest with fierce competition for new internet real estate including .app, .blog and .web from applicants hoping to break the near-monopoly of the .com top-level domain. Matt Cowan reports.
It is being described as the most significant change to the way the Internet is organized since the beginnings of the 'net. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN - the California-based body that oversees domain names has sparked an unprecedented land grab for new web addresses. Currently there are just 22 top level domain names in use, and they're fairly dry. .com, .org .net and the like. At an event in London, ICANN revealed its received 19 hundred applications for the right to use more imaginative suffixes such as .cloud, .buy and .book. ICANN chief executive Rod Beckstrom estimates as many as a thousand may get the go ahead. REUTERS CORRESPONDENT MATT COWAN ASKS "Why is this change necessary?" SOUNDBITE: Rod Beckstrom, ICANN Chief Executive, saying (English) "It's what the global Internet community wants and we're a non-profit global service organization so it's our job to deliver what the global internet community wants and they want more choices." REUTERS CORRESPONDENT MATT COWAN SAYING "This has been a controversial change to the way the Internet is organized, with criticism being levelled on ICANN for the cost to applicants as well as the way the process has been conducted, but it has been tremendously popular. There are 231 contested bitds. Among the most popular top level domains are .app with 13 bids, .inc with 12 and .home with 11. However, making an application is not cheap. Jonathan Robinson, is the director of the Internet registry services company Afilias. SOUNDBITE: Jonathan Robinson, Afilias non-executive director saying (English) "The fee to ICANN is 185,000 dollars. Frankly, very few people complete that process without spending some support related fees, so I'm putting a round figure of round about a quarter million just to get out of the starting gate. You've then got to bring that to market. If you haven't got a million dollars in your back pocket, it's not goint to get that domain name live." ICANN shrugs off concerns the costly process may be fuelling the digital divide. SOUNDBITE: Rod Beckstrom, ICANN Chief Executive, saying (English) "We've got to make sure the Internet is up and running reliably, so that's why the costs are high because we had to do all those different background checks." The first new domains are likely to come online in the first half of 2013. Matt Cowan, Reuters