The Internet is going to get a whole lot bigger, but also better organized. New top-level domains will open up large amounts of new online real estate, enabling businesses and ordinary people to get the website addresses they want, and creating new gathering spots for those with similar interests.
Don’t worry, the TLDs we’re all used to — like .com, .edu, .uk, and so on — will still be there. The web isn’t losing anything, we’re just adding to it.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a non-profit multi-stakeholder organization that oversees a number of Internet standards and services, including the top-level domain name space. ICANN manages the new top-level domain program using direction and input from the global Internet community. ICANN conducted an application process in which any individual or business that was able to demonstrate the financial and technical capability to launch and run a registry could apply for a new generic top-level domain. To learn more about ICANN, click here.
You can see all the gTLDs that have been applied for at ICANN’s website.
The first domains will go live as soon as October 2013. ICANN has committed to then releasing about 20 per week until all of the new domains have launched. It is expected to take about two years to launch them all.
Sit back and relax – you don’t need to do anything. The important thing is to just be aware that this change is coming and be comfortable using new top-level domains when they launch. If you’re interested in registering a new domain, make your way over to your preferred registrar and look out for updates on when they’ll start accepting registrations.
You can find domains on new top-level domains in the same way as existing TLDs: you’ll be able to search for them on your favorite search engine, type them into your browser yourself, click links, and so on. They’ll act just like websites on existing top-level domains like .com.
If you’re looking to get yourself a shiny new website you’ll have to head over to a registrar. A registrar is a company that allows you to register a second-level domain on one or many different top-level domains. The registrar then registers your new domain for you with the registry that manages and operates that top-level domain – kind of the way you buy milk from a grocery store, not directly from a dairy. For a full list of ICANN-accredited registrars, see here.
Unless a registry is offering pre-sales, you can’t reserve a second-level domain before the top-level domain launches. If there is a specific top-level domain you’re interested in, the best thing to do is visit that registry’s website to find out more information about when and where to register. Keep an eye on the launch timeline and make sure to snap up your favorite domain as soon as the top-level domain opens for registrations.
You can tell who owns a website by viewing the WHOIS information. Many registrars offer WHOIS searches, or you can use a third party service like DomainTools.