Major Changes On Cards For Website Address System

Dennis Faas's picture

There are major changes in store for the way Internet addresses work; The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann), which runs the system used to 'translate' website addresses to the particular computer used to store each site's content, held its annual general meeting this week.

It has backed plans to completely overhaul the top level domain system, which involves the letters that come after the final period in a site address. At the moment, the only letters which can be used are a two letter code for each country (such as .ca for Canada), or a few generic domains such as .com or .org.

The existing system theoretically allows four billion different website addresses, but Icann says just 17% of those still remain. And it's likely most of those are meaningless strings of letters.

Under the new scheme, people will be allowed to register any letters they want, as long as they can show a viable business plan and the technical abilities to use the domain. That means major companies will be able to have their own domains such as '.infopackets'.

An arbitration process will be implemented for conflicts; for example, an independent burger restaurant is unlikely to be allowed to control the '.mcdonalds' domain. As a general principle though, any domain with multiple applicants will be allocated by auctioning to the highest bidder. (Source:

It's likely to be a real moneyspinner for Icann. Although they've spent $10 million setting up the new system, there are reports that the price for controlling a new domain will be well into the tens of thousands of dollars. Popular generic names, such as '.sex' could go for far more than that. (Source:

The system will also allow website addresses in languages other than English and even using different alphabet systems.

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