With seven new top-level domains (TLDs) working their way into circulation--presumably to alleviate the congested .com space-business owners have to decide whether they want to register a new domain name. Until recently, your choices were limited to the .com, .net and .org suffixes. But last year, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)--the governing body that oversees the Internet's domain name system--approved a few new TLDs: .aero (for the air-transport industry), .biz (for businesses), .coop (for co-operatives), .info (for all uses), .museum (for museums), .name (for individuals) and .pro (for professionals such as doctors, lawyers and accountants). ICANN is now assigning the new TLDs in limited release during a "proof of concept" stage. In November of last year, it made available names registered with .biz and .info. Your company should be able to get a .pro domain name in the second quarter of this year; applications are currently being accepted.
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But will the new TLDs really help the Web addressing problem? Opinions are mixed. On one hand, if you missed the opportunity to register the .com you wanted the first time around, now could be your chance. But on the other hand, who's to say these new TLDs won't become congested as well? And many attorneys, domain-name managers and e-business owners are now spending time and money to register URLs they won't necessarily use in order to defend themselves from online predators and competitors.
"I think the new TLDs are mainly a way for ICANN and the registries to make more money, rather than a decent solution to the problem of Web addressing," says Danny Sullivan, editor of the Darien, Connecticut-based newsletter SearchEngineWatch.com. "I think anyone with a .com domain will feel like they need to pick up .biz and .info names as well, so they won't help the problem they were supposed to solve, which is making new names available."