Rise in regional and city TLDs


After the launch of '.eu' for the European Union, '.cat' for Catalonia and '.asia' for the Pan-Asia and Asia-Pacific community, a potential new regional top-level domain (TLD) for Latin America, '.lat', has been announced. Moreover, Berlin is currently promoting the '.berlin' extension.

The proposal for '.lat' was put forward by the Latin American and Caribbean Federation for Internet and e-Commerce and the Mexican registry. These organizations assert that the new extension would identify, distinguish and add value to internet resources related to Latin culture, thereby enabling cultural, social and business expression beyond geographical boundaries. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will decide on the proposal during the course of the year.

Nearly all countries worldwide have their own country code top-level domain (ccTLD); there are currently more than 230 ccTLDs. In addition to ccTLDs and regional TLDs, there is also a burgeoning trend for cities aiming to connect their name to a TLD. Berlin is currently promoting the '.berlin' extension, which is the first initiative worldwide for a city TLD. The TLD is sponsored by a company known as dotBERLIN.

According to dotBERLIN, space has become very scarce in some TLDs. It highlights the fact that over 11 million registrations have been made under '.de' (the ccTLD for Germany) and over 73 million under '.com' and '.net' combined, which makes it increasingly difficult to register sensible domains. In its view, internet traffic is becoming more local; therefore, it wishes to provide Berliners and their organizations with the opportunity to register a '.berlin' domain name.

New York, Paris and London are reportedly following this trend with initiatives for a '.nyc', a '.paris' and a '.london' extension, respectively. dotBERLIN is in the process of providing ICANN with the application documents. It is expected that ICANN will decide on the application in the first half of 2008; '.berlin' domain names would then be registrable in 2009.

David Taylor and Jane Seager, Lovells, Paris

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