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Forget .coms, your name alone can be an internet address

Sunday August 14, 2011 03:06:00 PM, James Jose, IANS

New Delhi: Forget confusing web addresses! Soon if you just type SBI on your browser you can go to the web site of the State Bank of India or by merely typing SpiceJet, the airline's portal opens before you -- no .com, .net, .in, .org or .edu.

The way you surf the net is set for another revolution. The global non-profit organistion that oversees domain addresses is lifting the restrictions on suffixes, which will enable companies and people to personalise their presence on the web even further.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers will open up the new domain name system beyond the current 22 generic domains such as .com, .gov, .info, .biz, or .int to just about anything. These will be supplemented by thousands in virtually any language.

But this is where the happy story ends.

The application money alone will set you back by $185,000 (Rs.85 lakh) and more for the process. The window for applying will be open for four months starting Jan 1. And if you miss the bus, it is uncertain when fresh applications will be accepted.

"You can call the fee steep. But look at the potential. It creates a separate level of branding," said Jasjit Sawhney, chief executive of Net4 India, one of the largest web hosting providers, and among those authorised to register domain names in India.

"For established names, it creates a separate level of branding. There is no doubt a few thousands of top global brands will go for this. In their overall spend, this will just be a drop in the ocean," Sawhney told IANS.

"Now, it is very easy to go phishing, hijacking people's identities and diverting them to another place. If you register and place an SBI logo on the page, it will look authentic and easily misguide users to this domain address," he said.

"But if SBI itself is the extension, there is no chance of deception."

For the new domain extensions, three categories will be permitted -- based on the brand or firm names, generic names and community or geographical names. But domain names like India will be reserved for the government -- but get it only if it applies.

"For some government bodies, it can also become a significant revenue model as they can sell domain prefixes. We are already in discussions with four state governments," said Sahwney, but declined to name them.

"Then there are the generic domains which do not belong to anybody. These would be like .web, .food, or .shoes. There is going to be a frenzy for these. They will be auctioned and my bet is each of them would fetch over $10 million," he added.

Accordingly, smaller players -- say, someone running a stand-alone restaurant -- can buy a prefix of the entity's name from whoever has the rights for the generic names of food or restaurant.

"These will, of course, come cheap. My guess is as low as $5-$10."

(James Jose can be reached at or




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