The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) will radically increase the number of domain endings from the current 22.The global internet regulating body has voted to allow the creation of completely new website domain suffixes- the biggest change for the online world in years.
Internet address names can now end with almost any word and be in any language.
Icann will begin taking applications next year, with corporations and cities expected to be among the first.
“Icann has opened the internet’s addressing system to the limitless possibilities of the human imagination,” said Rod Beckstrom, president and chief executive officer for Icann. “No one can predict where this historic decision will take us.”
There will be several hundred new generic top-level domain names (gTLDs), which could include such addresses as .google, .apple, or even .searchclinic.
There are currently 22 gTLDs, as well as about 250 country-level domain names such as .uk or .us.
However the process will not be simple or cheap. It will cost £114,000 to apply for the suffixes, and companies would need to show they have a legitimate claim to the name they are buying.
The vote completes a six year negotiation process and is the biggest change to the system since .com was first introduced 26 years ago.
Icann said it was beginning a global communications programme to raise awareness of the new domain names.
New applications will start on 12 January 2012.