ICANN Approves Historic Change to Internet's Domain Name System Board Votes to Launch New Generic Top-Level Domains

ICANN's Board of Directors has approved a plan to usher in one of the biggest changes ever to the Internet's Domain Name System. The Board vote was 13 approving, 1 opposed, and 2 abstaining.

During a special meeting, the Board approved a plan to dramatically increase the number of Internet domain name endings -- called generic top-level domains (gTLDs) -- from the current 22, which includes such familiar domains as .com, .org and .net.

"ICANN has opened the Internet's naming system to unleash the global human imagination. Today's decision respects the rights of groups to create new Top Level Domains in any language or script. We hope this allows the domain name system to better serve all of mankind," said Rod Beckstrom, President and Chief Executive Officer of ICANN.

New gTLDs will change the way people find information on the Internet and how businesses plan and structure their online presence. Internet address names will be able to end with almost any word in any language, offering organizations around the world the opportunity to market their brand, products, community or cause in new and innovative ways.

"Today's decision will usher in a new Internet age," said Peter Dengate Thrush, Chairman of ICANN's Board of Directors. "We have provided a platform for the next generation of creativity and inspiration."

The decision to proceed with the gTLD program follows many years of discussion, debate and deliberation with the Internet community, business groups and governments. The Applicant Guidebook, a rulebook explaining how to apply for a new gTLD, went through seven significant revisions to incorporate more than 1,000 comments from the public. Strong efforts were made to address the concerns of all interested parties, and to ensure that the security, stability and resiliency of the Internet are not compromised.

ICANN will soon begin a global campaign to tell the world about this dramatic change in Internet names and to raise awareness of the opportunities afforded by new gTLDs. Applications for new gTLDs will be accepted from 12 January 2012 to 12 April 2012.

Journalist and media expert Oksana Prykhodko arrived at ICANN 40 in San Francisco with a mission. She had set out to improve understanding in Ukraine of the importance of the Internet.

Oksana characterizes the week that followed as "great, wonderful, and a little crazy." She found an ally in the manager of the Russian country code top level domain, and gained insight into Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs). Attending her first ICANN meeting as a Fellow, Oksana found the experience rewarding – and three short months later, has been elected Secretariat of the European Regional At-Large Organization (EURALO). She also has joined the Working Group for Cyrillic IDNs.

Can participating in ICANN's volunteer community accelerate your Internet agenda? Quite possibly. Listen to Oksana's video. Then, if you're from a developing country, consider applying to ICANN's Fellowship Program to attend a future ICANN meeting with some travel expenses covered.

The application round for attending our October meeting in Dakar, Senegal, as a Fellow is open until 8 July 2011.

Friendly, outgoing, and technologically savvy, Fouad Bajwa was the State Webmaster for the government of Pakistan. When he returned to private sector employment, he thirsted for technical knowledge that could keep him relevant in the international market as he promoted the open-source movement.

Despite strong doubts regarding ICANN's model and motives, Fouad attended our meeting in Seoul, South Korea, in 2009. Today, he volunteers as the co-Vice Chair for the Asian-Pacific Regional At-Large Organization (APRALO), a key part of ICANN's At-Large community.

What changed Fouad's opinion of ICANN? And how has working with ICANN helped this accomplished IT trainer? Hear Fouad's story, in his own words, in the accompanying video.

This video continues the "Who Is ICANN?" series we launched last week. Part One introduced Mistura Aruna of Nigeria.

Fouad attended his first ICANN meeting courtesy of the Fellowship Program. If you're from a developing country, you can learn more about the Program on our ICANN Meeting Fellowships page. Apply now to attend our October meeting in Dakar, Senegal, as a Fellow. The deadline for applying is 8 July 2011.