ICANN opens 'costly' gTLD sales

Companies will have to pay $185,000 to get their hands on a personalised TLD.

Internet

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) today opened up sales of generic top level domains (gTLDs), meaning the likes of .london or .itpro could appear online soon.

Those who want a personalised gTLD will have to pay out $185,000 (121,000) for the privilege.

It has taken seven years of planning at ICANN and means gTLDs can include words in non-Latin languages like Chinese or Arabic.

Undoubtedly, the availability of a whole raft of new TLDs will raise a number of cybersquatting concerns.

Those wanting a specialised TLD will have to use the TLD Application System (TAS) to submit their application, which consists of 50 questions.

A limited number of qualifying applicants will only have to pay a $47,000 evaluation fee instead of the full $185,000, thanks to a $2 million donation from ICANN's board of directors.

The dawn of gTLDs has sparked strong, polarised opinions. Some say it will herald a new era of online branding, whilst others see it as a money-making scheme for ICANN.

There are also security concerns, largely around so-called cybersquatting.

"Undoubtedly, the availability of a whole raft of new TLDs will raise a number of cybersquatting concerns," said Andreas Edler, managing director of hosting firm Hostway UK.

"For companies that have invested heavily in establishing their online brand it is now a question of whether they make protective registrations now or take their chances later, once gTLDs become more prevalent."

Edler nevertheless believes big business will jump at the chance to acquire gTLDs.

"The introduction of new gTLDs will likely be welcomed by the big global brands that have the money to pay for costly registry rights and marketing power to promote the new address to customers," he added.

"However, all businesses should now be thinking about the value that TLDs will bring to their organisation and identifying any relevant ones to pursue. In the future, we could even see brands reselling these domains as third-level extensions to partners to enhance their brand recognition and recoup costs."

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