The little domain name that could

By Fred McClimans, Network World |  Networking

I think ICANN, I think ICANN, I think ICANN.

It's the mantra being repeated all over the globe by companies and organizations vying to create new global Top Level Domains (gTLD) to supplement the current .coms, .orgs, etc. All you need to do is convince ICANN, that new one-world government, that your proposed gTLD is more worthy than all the others. That and the $50,000 non-refundable application fee aimed at weeding out the jokesters (darn, there goes my plans for .fred).

The stated goal of all the hullaballoo (ICANN is now in a "quiet period" as it reviews the 50 or so proposals it got) is to make the Internet experience more enjoyable and useful for both surfers and Internet sites. For example, a .dog site would likely be about dogs. Of course, this leads to potential confusion. For example, there have been proposals for both .pro (for professionals, for example, doctors and lawyers) and .sex (pretty obvious). But as one observer has asked, would brothels then be .pro.sex or .sex.pro?

Of course, the real issue is the need to expand the number of domain names -- with the Web a global thing, we have no end of potential conflicts between similarly named companies and organizations that once existed happily thousands of miles apart.

The new gTLDs are unlikely to solve the copyright and trademark issues the Web has meant (although it will mean a nice new revenue stream for name registrars as companies rush to register their names in all those new domains).

But there is an alternative to the madness: the two-letter country domains. Tuvalu But if you are looking for alternatives to the existing domain options, why not consider an international extension. Long before Esther Dyson became the queen of ICANN, ISO had apportioned domain names to virtually every spot on earth. And some of these little spots are cashing in: Tuvalu, a bunch of specks in the Pacific, has sold enough spots in the .TV domain to pay for its entry into the United Nations. From St. Vincent (.vc) to the Cayman Islands (.ky), there are scores of these existing alternative domains -- many now represented by U.S.-based registrars. So if yourkillername.com is already taken, consider yourkillername.cc. or yourkillername.to.

It'll cost, you though -- Many of these domain cost about $200/year to register. And some of these micro-nations aren't really set up to handle a flood of domain requests -- it can take weeks or months for your new name to actually take effect (and I hear there's even one tiny state that's sold its entire domain to a single company).

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