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Updated: July 2, 2012 01:50 IST

India shows little interest in new top level domains

T. Ramachandran
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ICANN to start approval of new generic names on July 12; only 20 applications have been sent from the country

The screening of hundreds of new Internet top level domain names, proposed by over 1,900 applicants worldwide, including a handful from India, will begin on July 12, as the domain name system gets set for a massive expansion.

At the end of the exercise lasting several months, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is expected to approve the addition of hundreds of generic top-level domain names (gTLDs), the concluding part of the web address after the dot. Now, the gTLDs are restricted to a few names — such as .com or .org, and many country code domain names such as .in for India or .uk for the United Kingdom — and the big expansion in their number has been on the anvil for years. For the first time, it will include non-Latin scripts.

At a recent meeting in Prague, the ICANN authorities revealed that of the 1,930 applications received, 751 were vying for TLDs, for which more than one party had staked claim, such as .app, .site and .news. More than 100 applications were for domain names in non-Latin scripts, including a few in Hindi. The three Hindi TLDs, for which applications have been made, are transliterations for .com and .net and the equivalent of .org — ‘sanghatan.’

Such internationalised domain names apart, 84 applications fell in the community-based category such as .catholic, .islam, .kids and .gay. And 66 were in the category of geographic names such as .africa and .boston.

Only 20 applications have come from India. In line with the global trend, most seem to have been made by companies intending to protect or further their brand names rather than enter the domain name registry business.

Ram Mohan, security and stability committee liaison officer of the ICANN Board, and executive vice-president of Afilias, a domain name registry services firm, reckons that the response from India to the expansion programme is disappointing, given that India has “such a vibrant business environment and so many global businesses.” While many of the applications are “aimed at the use and protection of corporate brands, some of the exciting ones seem to be aimed at a more general market” — TLDs, such as .indians, .statebank and .desi, have the potential for general appeal.

The applications were received over three months, from January 12, when the ICANN opened the ‘application window.’ They will be processed in batches over a period of five months each, or in one batch over 15 months. An objection period of seven months will be available. Applicants have to pay $1,85,000 in evaluation fee alone.

Top ICANN staff are disappointed that only three applications have been received from a ‘supported’ category, which is required to pay only $47,000 if they can demonstrate financial need, provide a public interest benefit and possess the wherewithal to run a registry. They have indicated that the scheme may be reworked to elicit a better response.

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