The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the organization that manages the Internet's domain name system, began accepting applications for new top-level domains on Thursday after more than seven years of planning. The list of 22 generic top-level domains, including the commonly known .com, .org and .net, could soon expand to include all types of words, including those in different languages.
The decision is controversial because some believe there is no need for new top-level domains. Critics, including the Federal Trade Commission, say that the new domains will unnecessarily complicate the structure of the Internet, and that the only true benefactors of the decision will be domain-name registrars, many of which are on the ICANN board. Other opponents include Coca-Cola, General Electric and about 50 other corporations, which are worried that the decision will potentially make it more difficult to protect their brands and may confuse consumers.
The application for new top-level domains is open to anyone and while there are very few restrictions on what the domain can include, the cost will probably be prohibitive to most: Each individual top-level domain application will cost $185,000. Despite the hefty cost, some companies and a few cities, including Berlin, Paris and New York have stated their intent to apply for custom domains.
ICANN will accept applications until April 12, and full details of the program can be found on the ICANN website (which currently still ends in .org).