Alliance to champion top-level domain names

Nineteen of the world's largest domain name registrars have created an alliance to make web suffixes like 'dot-info', 'dot-site' and 'dot-web' a reality.

Nineteen of the world's largest domain name registrars have created an alliance to make web suffixes like 'dot-info', 'dot-site' and 'dot-web' a reality.

The consortium, Afilias, is bidding to operate the new web extensions which will be decided by governing body Icann before the end of the year. Applications for the new domains closed this week, with 45 different companies or organisations sponsoring hundreds of new top-level domain (TLD) possibilities, such as 'dot-sex', 'dot-wap' and 'dot-game'. Tom Barrett, CEO of UK registrar NetNames, one of the founding partners of Afilias, is confident the consortium will be successful. "We've got some of the best names in the business trying to figure out how you would make it better if you were to create and run 'dot-com'," he said. Afilias has applied to run 'dot-info', 'dot-site' and 'dot-web', but according to Barrett the names are unimportant. "There are all kinds of selection criteria to decide which proposals are most worthy," he said. "Like the sort of technical infrastructure being used, how privacy will be protected and how to treat all registrars fairly. "Icann [domain name regulator] wants to ensure that whoever it picks will be successful - we can always change the characters if necessary," he added. The consortium particularly wants to improve the protection of intellectual property when the new domains are created. It is proposing a 'sunrise' period for current trademark owners, giving them the chance to register the new TLDs before they are offered to the general public. "It will still be fairly chaotic, but we will be trying to make sure the land-rush doesn't bring down the network or encourage cybersquatting," Barrett said. Other founding members of Afilias include Domain Bank, Network Solutions and Register.com, and the group is leaving membership open to others who want to join. "Icann is being very careful not to create a natural monopoly," Barrett said. Icann will now consider all TLD proposals and hopes to have the new domains in place by the end of the year.