The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) voted to accept a proposal that will allow companies to buy new TLD (top level domain) names ending in whatever they want.
This new rule will go in effect in 2009 and it will open up a broad range of possibilities. For instance, it will allow cities to buy their own top level domain - perhaps we'll get sites ending with .ny, .london or .brussels but we can also imagine the Internet giants will buy TLDs like .google, .ebay, .amazon, etc.
It's not sure how much ICANN will charge for this but experts estimate it will be in the range of $50,000 to $100,000. The price will be high to fend off cybersquatters but I'm sure it will also be a pretty lucrative business for everyone involved.
The new naming process will begin in 2009. The first suffixes will likely be given to businesses and other major organizations. Countries are expected to keep their specific suffixes, but as in the example above cities could also get individualized URLs, such as .london or .chicago.
In an effort to deter cybersquatters, the organization is likely to charge a hefty price for the new names. Some experts estimate the new domain names could cost anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 or more. ICANN plans to give companies with trademarked names priority for their names.
The group also voted to open public comment on a proposal that would allow countries to use non-English script. For example, companies could use Chinese or Arabic script to identify their web sites.
Paul Twomey, the chief executive of ICANN, told the BBC earlier this week that allowing the new naming conventions would create new "real estate" on the Internet. But some experts worry that it could unleash a gold rush mentality. While trademarked names will only be available to those trademark holders, there are loads of common words that people could want to register, such as .sex.