| the more, the merrier
London, Dec. 15 (Reuters): The group that oversees the internet’s traffic system said on Sunday it plans to approve a host of new address suffixes to join the likes of “.com” and “.org” over the coming year.
But most internet users will not be able to register Web site names in the new domains, as they will be limited to organisations in specific fields such as healthcare.
The precise number and names of the domains will be determined at an ICANN meeting in early 2003, the group said.
The new domains will follow the model of existing “restricted” domains such as .edu, which is open only to US colleges and universities, and .museum, which is limited to museums, rather than being open to all like .com and .net.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, approved the plan at its annual meeting in Amsterdam on Sunday.
ICANN president Stuart Lynn said it decided on restricted domains because they can be put into circulation sooner and were not likely to be the target of cyber-squatters, speculators who look to cash in by selling coveted domains to companies or organisations.
Since its creation in 1998, ICANN has faced calls to open up the domain-name system to a wide variety of new domains such as .xxx, .web and .golf to ease crowding in .com and other established domains.
ICANN approved seven new domains in November 2000, but encountered howls of protest from the dozens of applicants whose proposals were rejected, as well as those who believe ICANN moved too slowly.
The new domains that did win approval then, such as .biz, .info, .name, .pro, .coop, .museum and .aero, have met with varying amounts of success.
Nearly one million names have been registered in .info, and more than 750,000 names have been registered in .biz, according to State of the Domain, an industry newsletter.
The .name domain has been slower to catch on, with only 85,000 registrations, while .pro has yet to make names available to the doctors, lawyers and other professionals who are its target audience.
Restricted domains have faced less controversy, as applicants have had to prove that they meet certain criteria.