While debate continues over the US government's proposal to control the new Internet top-level domain names, the Central Asian republic of Turkmenistan is already making good use of its internationally allocated .tm Internet domain. While the Americans have proposed that this be used for trademarked company names, the Turkmen are selling .tm domains to anyone with £99 via the global domain name registry NetNames. Over 3,500 domains have already been registered.
Steve Miller, marketing manager for NetNames UK, is bullish about the business. "With the American government trying to take control, it's a way of telling them to get lost and say we'll give the users what they want," he said.
With "about half" the revenue from the registrations going to Turkmenistan authorities, it won't make a big difference to the oil and gas exporting country's troubled economy "but it's obviously welcome", said Miller. He expects interest to increase: "Actual usage of the name is the next big thing. When we see it on hoardings, then it'll really take off".
A Turkmenistan domain name can easily be registered easily as the country is one of the 88 that doesn't require users to have any sort of local presence. Other countries have differing requirements: East Timor (.tp) requires 'tacit support for the freedom of East Timor', while Antarctica (.aq) doesn't need you to put your DNS server actually on site but does expect you to be an expedition or on a listening post.
According to Miller, other countries with good potential for commercialisation of their domains include Guadeloupe, whose .gp may attract medics, and the Democratic Republic of Congo which has a record company friendly .cd suffix. He would not be drawn on possible uses of the Cook Islands' .co.ck, although this too is available.