Telcos submit plans for new mobile phone gTLD

International

Nine companies have submitted proposals to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) for a new domain registry for domain names specific to mobile phones. It is hoped that a new generic top-level domain (gTLD) would simplify "the internet experience for mobile subscribers and [increase] the ease of use and speed of delivery of mobile internet services".

The proposals have been submitted by 3, GSM Association, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, Nokia, Orange, Samsung, Sun Microsystems and Vodafone. Under the terms of a memorandum of understanding signed by these nine companies:

  • they would form a new domain registry to administer the gTLD;

  • the new registry would be located in Ireland; and

  • service providers for mobile devices and customers would consider the new gTLD in a similar way to the existing '.com' gTLD.

Applicants for the new domain names would be expected to design content in a form specifically aimed at mobile device services. ICANN has made available online the comments it has received so far on the proposal.

It is believed that, if the new gTLD is accepted by ICANN, the preferred domain extension would be '.mobi' or '.mbl'. The assignment of names would occur first via a sunrise period that would allow trademark owners to register domain names before the domain was open to the public. Brand owners are therefore advised to keep a close eye on the development of the new proposals so they can register their preferred domain names early and prevent cybersquatting.

The possibility of a new gTLD for mobile devices is part of ICANN's initiative to introduce a range of new gTLDS. ICANN has received proposals from a number of organizations regarding the administration of the possible additions to the list of gTLDs, which include '.cat', '.jobs' and '.travel'.

Lawrence Ryz, Berwin Leighton Paisner, London

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