Icann: Let the domain games commence

The Internet's governing board hears final pleas from 44 applicants hoping to spend -- and gain -- millions from new top-level domains

Let the begging begin. For several hours Wednesday, dozens of would-be registers hoping to create new top-level domains for the Internet -- to complement .com, .org, .gov, and the like -- made their final pleas before the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann).

It was all a precursor to what is likely be an explosive meeting Thursday, when the Icann board is expected to choose the winners from a pool of 44 applications.

"I feel like we're in a venture capital firm," board member Vince Cerf said, even before the parade of applicants began taking the microphone.

The 44 presentations planned for Wednesday represent nearly $2.2 million in total application fees for Icann, plus the hundreds of millions in startup costs to create and register Web pages under the new top-level domains.

But the payoff could be astronomical. Some companies that have applied for the domains are estimating they'll pull in more than $100m a year in business.

Icann has been meeting all week, but its board set aside Wednesday morning for staffers to outline their evaluations of each of the would-be registrants.

The two-hour presentation didn't differ much from the same findings released Friday, which concluded that of the 44 proposals, 17 stood above the rest.

Most of the favorable proposals are from companies that want to create TLDs for general purposes -- including .biz, .go, or .web.

Staffers also found that Icann board members should choose proposed domains such as .kids and .xxx, which they labeled as appropriate for special content.

Staffers believe it was "premature" to choose TLDs like .one, or .tel, which would be the domain for phone numbers.

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