New unlimited cyber real estate: they're making more, but should you buy it? It will take several years for the effect of the new generic top-level domains to fully play out.

Author:Amolsch, Regina

Working with businesses on Internet and technology matters means there's almost always an interesting, and thorny, development just around the corner. This is also the case with the recently announced program for new generic top-level domains or gTLDs. Here are some questions we've been asked about the new "unlimited" gTLDs.



What is a gTLD and What's the News About It?

The term "gTLD" stands for generic top-level domain. A gTLD is a piece of the Internet's structure, an extension used in the Internet's domain name system. There are 22 gTLDs and the most common are .COM, .ORG, .INFO, .NET, but one might see many more gTLDs in the future under the new program.

In June 2011, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which among other things, is responsible for managing the top-level domain names announced its new gTLD program. ICANN's new program launches in 2012 and will allow parties to apply for any gTLD they wish, such as corporate-named specific generic top-level domain names (e.g., .mcdonalds or .macys). ICANN may also allow registration of names such as .coffee, .burgers, .futbol, .shoes, .shopping, or .movies, or for geographic areas, such as .NYC or .Paris.

If You're Interested, How do you Participate?

First, get out your check book. Just for the privilege of applying, you'll need to pay ICANN an application fee of $185,000. From there, the cost goes up. A successful bidder will have to establish and administer its new gTLD.

For most, that probably means engaging professionals to manage the new gTLD, as well as establishing and enforcing rules (subject to ICANN's approval). Based on ICANN's estimates, these start-up costs and initial expenses could run approximately $500,000 for the first two years (plus ongoing fees due to ICANN, technical and legal costs, and insurance expenses).

Before writing the check, take stock of your organization's goals, strategies and plan for the gTLD. Not only is such a plan crucial to your operational success, but the organization must also describe that plan to ICANN in its application for the new gTLD.

From Jan. 12, 2012 through April 12, 2012, ICANN will accept new gTLD applications. As described in a 360-page Applicant Guidebook, applicants will be subject to evaluation for technical, financial and administrative qualifications to operate a gTLD registry, and must give a detailed description of their mission and vision for the registry...

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