- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 13, 2012

On Wednesday, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers released a list of some 2,000 proposals for new Internet address suffixes, including “.blog,” “.web” and “.gift.” They represent corporate brand names, political affiliations, geographic regions and more.

Expanding the number of suffixes, the “.com” part of an Internet address, has been one of ICANN’s missions since its creation in 1998 to oversee domain names. ICANN had two test rounds, in 2000 and 2004, when it added “.info,” “.Asia,” “.travel,” among others. It’s now ready to expand the domain name system more broadly.

For the new round, ICANN began accepting proposals in January. Bidders had to answer 50 questions covering such things as what a proposed suffix will be used for and what kind of financial backing the company or organization has. They had until May 30 to submit the proposal. Each proposal cost $185,000 to submit.

Now that ICANN has announced its list of proposals, there will be months and possibly years of reviews before the suffixes are accepted and available for use.

Here’s what happens now:

THE CHALLENGES: The public will have 60 days to comment on the proposals. There’s also a seven-month window to file an objection, such as a claim of trademark violation.

THE LOGISTICS: Because of the high number of proposals, ICANN will review them in groups of about 500. There’s a lottery-like system to determine which ones get to be considered first. It could take more than a year to get to the final group.

THE REVIEW: ICANN will review each proposal to make sure that its financial plan is sound and that contingencies exist in case a company goes out of business. Bidders also must pass criminal background checks.

If multiple bidders seek the same suffix, ICANN will hold an auction should competing parties fail to come up with a compromise.

The review is expected to take at least nine months, meaning approval of the first batch won’t happen until at least early next year. If there are challenges or other problems, ICANN believes the review could take up to 20 months.

Approvals will be made on a rolling basis, so those that pass review early won’t have to wait for the ones that take more time.

THE LAUNCH: Once a suffix gets approved, the winning bidder will have to set up procedures for registering names under that suffix and computers to keep track of them. The bidder might have all that already completed in anticipation of an approval.

The bidder pays an annual fee that starts at $25,000. The suffix gets activated and becomes available for use. All that could take days or months.

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