If you believe the hype, 2012 could be the year of new domain names. That’s because plans for the liberalisation of the domain name market – which were discussed and debated for years – are finally being put into practice.

This month saw applications open for the creation of new domain name extensions. Think .london, .microsoft, .coke or .sport – anyone can apply to create a new domain name suffix.

New domains, but not for everyone

Applications close in April, after which ICANN (the organisation that manages the domain name system) decides who should be able to set up and run new domain names.

Of course, it’s not for everyone. The application process is complex and expensive. It costs $185,000 just to put an application forward, and applicants also have to demonstrate that they can effectively set up and run the new domain name extension.

For cost reasons alone, expect to see applications limited to big name corporations. Some pundits have suggested Facebook could be among them, simply in order to give every Facebook user their personal web address: http://yourname.facebook.

Industry experts Verisign reckon there could be 1,500 applications. Of most interest to smaller businesses and individuals will be any non-branded terms that are opened up for public registration. Perhaps your business would like a .local or a .london address.

Are they better than .com?

The truth is it’s too early to say what impact these new domain names will have. Some big brands have confirmed that they’re definitely not interested, preferring to stick with their tried, tested and highly-recognisable .com domain names.

That’s fine if you already own the .com domain name of your dreams. But with prime domain names becoming rarer, new extensions could be the best way to ensure there are enough good domain names for everyone.

Of course, we’ll be keeping a close eye on this over the next few months. It’s too soon to say what new domains will be created or how they’ll be used. But we plan to expand the range of domain names we offer to include any exciting new extensions – so you can still enjoy the wide choice you’ve come to expect from 123-reg.

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