traverselegal - June 11, 2014 - Internet Law
Get Ready for the Next Big .Thing (An Overview of New gTLDs)
The Internet is about to experience a dramatic and important change that will affect every user. Today, web addresses and with familiar extensions such as dot-com and dot-org, soon there could be hundreds more of these sort of extensions. They are called generic top-level domains or gTLDs. What’s the new gTLD mean for you? This video will help you find out.
In order to understand what exactly is changing and how it will affect you; let’s look behind the scenes at how domain names work. This is what’s known as a generic top-level domain. Today, there only 22 such gTLDs. After the top-level, comes the second level. When you register a domain name, you are actually creating a unique combination of a first and second-level name. Let’s say you want a registered ‘Example.com’. You are the Registrant and you acquire the name using a registrar accredited by ICANN. The Registrar checks with the Registry and if the name you want is available, then you get to use it. Note: that the Registry is who makes your domain name function technically. The Registry puts your domain name in the right data bases so the rest of the Internet can find you. Until now, there have been millions of possible domain names on the second level but fewer than two dozen generic domain possibilities at the top level and that’s what it’s about to change.
With ICANN’s new gTLD program, the Internet name-space will expand. Soon you could create and manage a top-level domain of your own choosing. Why would you want to? First, if your organization runs its own TLD, your organization sets the rules. You can make you TLD as inclusive or exclusive as you want. For example, you can sell second-level domain registrations at a price you choose or you could decide not to sell them at all. Maybe you issue them only to your employees. You could offer specialized security services or perhaps you want all the web addresses in new TLD to work in your native alphabet? It’s up to you.
If you represent a community or cultural preservation group, a TLD might provide a rallying point where the Internet celebrates what you value. If you represent a government or municipality, a TLD could help your populist shared views could find vital information.
New gTLDs can be internationalized domain names which incorporate character sets, such as Chinese, Arabic, Cyrillic or any known Western alphabet. That one fact opens the Internet to masses of new users. Businesses might also be interested in new gTLDs. If you make your brand a TLD, customers might feel more confident that sites under your domain are really you.
A dot brand TLD can mean better brand control, new investment opportunities and a chance to show your leadership in Internet technology. Just as no one predicted the dot-com boom, no one can predict all the innovative ways new gTLDs will be used. Who knows what the next big dog thing will be?
Challenges: I’ve talked about why you would want your own gTLD, why wouldn’t you want one? First, to operate a TLD is to be in charge of dot-something. You’re not merely registering a second level domain, you are an organization running a registry responsible for a piece of Internet infrastructure. Second, operating a TLD takes a substantial investment. Just to apply for a generic top-level domain cost $185,000 US Dollars or more. You need to be well capitalized to start and operate a TLD business. Third, this process is not fast. Applications will go through an evaluation that take several months. A new gTLD won’t be available for Internet users into almost a year after applications are first accepted. Finally, operating the registry requires skill in a lot a business realms including technical, legal, financial and marketing. To investigate the opportunities, new gTLDs offer, you would be wise to get help from experts familiar with the domain name industry.
The Application Process: The process of applying for a new gTLD is not trivial. Your proposed new top-level domain must pass through several checkpoints and so must your organization. You can learn all about the application requirements in a document called, “The Applicant Guidebook”, available online. If you decide not to apply, you should still watch new gTLDs developed. You might spot new ways to compete or think of an innovative business model. And wouldn’t you want to know if your competitors apply for a TLD? If anyone applies for your brand or your cause, you can object! So you should keep paying attention.
The Internet is changing. ICANN expects hundreds of applications for an incredible variety of new top-level domains that will introduce competition, innovation and choice. Running a new TLD is not for everybody but you have to admit the potential is amazing.
The question that remains is what will be the next big dot-thing and the answer might be, “you name it”.