Every website you have ever visited has been administered at the root level by ICANN
Who is ICANN?
The Domain Name System (DNS) is governed by a global non profit organization called ICANN (Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Number).
The DNS is the system through which hard-to-remember numbers, such as 453.465.786.76 are converted to human friendly names, like Google.com, or PBS.org.
All domain names operate under the umbrella of ICANN, including the prolific .com, .net, .org domain names as well as all country specific domains using .de(Germany), .nl(Netherlands) and others.
ICANN operates in a multistakeholder model where industry, governments, institutions and individuals can all contribute to policy decisions.
What is a gTLD?
gTLD = Generic Top Level Domain = What comes after the dot = ‘com‘ in www.thiswebaddress.com ‘.com‘ is a gTLD, as are ‘.net’, ‘.org’, ‘.gov‘ and ‘.edu‘. Domain Name Levels www.third.second.top In the example www.this.web.address, the top level domain is ‘address‘, the second level domain is ‘web‘ and the third level domain is ‘this‘.
Presently there are close to 23 gTLDs (see list).
ICANN is now allowing an expansion to the existing assortment of Top Level Domains (TLDs) to include perhaps thousands more. Through a painstaking, 6 year long process, involving stakeholders including governments, industry, non profit organizations, and trademark holders, ICANN developed a process through which organizations can apply to operate a top level domain - what comes after the dot in a domain address- and offer second level names for users beneath them.
The result will be a massive increase in website naming choice and possibilities limited only by imagination!
What is the ICANN New gTLD Program?
ICANN or, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has allowed organizations globally to apply for the right to operate a new gTLD registry of their choosing and introduce it to for use on the world wide web. Over 1900 applications were received. There were top level domain applications covering a wide range of categories and purposes. see list When a new gTLD extension is delegated, the registry can, if they choose, make second level domain names beneath it available for registrars to then sell to end users (Registrants) for use as their address on the world wide web.
This dramatic increase in the number of gTLDs will have far reaching implications. Every internet user will be impacted, especially businesses small to large.
Why New gTLDs?
Openness, Change, Innovation
The internet is growing at an astounding rate. In addition to 50,000 new domains coming online every single day, the number of internet users globally will double to over 3 billion within 4 years. Internet commerce is expected to be $1.4 Trillion by 2015. There is insufficient space in the existing gTLD space to accomodate this growth. Even today it is increasingly difficult for entrepreneurs coming online to find a decent name for their business at a reasonable price. Because of this, ICANN is ‘opening up’ the domain name space.
The manner in which people and businesses use and interact with the information super highway is changing everyday. Users are going mobile. Apps are gaining popularity. Social media is huge. Internet search is getting more localized. New gTLDs can help facilitate these changes and more. New domain names and new opportunities can lead to . .
There can many new services and applications for new gTLDs. Already there are plans for gTLDs with special purpose or use that will provide new services. .SECURE, for example, is being developed to provide additional security for its domain users. The truth is, nobody can say exactly what new ideas and innovation may come as a result of the New gTLD Program. What will be the next big.THING? Who knows?
How will New gTLDs happen ?
After years of policy development, working with the internet community, governments and Intellectual property groups, ICANN has approved the New gTLD Applicant Guidebook. The Guidebook , at 360 pages, details the New gTLD Application Process . Applicants for New gTLDs paid $185,000US application fee and are currently involved in extensive evaluation for technical, financial, and administrative qualifications to operate a gTLD registry in a manner that supports the stability and security of the internet.
When will the New gTLDs be available?
It is projected that New Top Level Domains will be added to the internet beginning Summer 2013. Over the course of the next two years, over 1000 new tlds will be online ready to be fully functioning domain extensions on the world wide web.