Dot-gov, dot-com and more - New website suffixes coming

Tuesday - 7/5/2011, 11:02am EDT

Karen Lentz, manager of business and research content, ICANN

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By Jolie Lee
Federal News Radio

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has voted to expand website suffixes (think dot-com and dot-gov).

This change could have a "potentially high impact on a lot of people," said Karen Lentz, manager of business and research content of ICANN.

The launch of new top-level domains (TLD) comes after six years of collaboration with governments, businesses, nonprofits and other groups, Lentz said, calling the effort a "major undertaking."

The expanded TLDs have three main advantages, Lentz said:

  1. People can apply for TLDs in many scripts and languages. Currently, names are limited to Latin characters.
  2. More TLDs means more choice for consumers, increasing competition.
  3. More innovation can occur. "It's not known yet what developments are out there that may eventually become significant," Lentz said.

A three-month application window begins January 2012, followed by a "rigorous evaluation process," she said.

Part of the review process will include an objection process to prevent trademark infringement. ICANN will "weed out the most obvious and egregious form of similarly that would lead to consumer confusion," she said.

Lentz estimated that it would take 18 months before new TLDs are finalized.