The ICANN general assembly, the organization managing Internet domain names, decided on Thursday, in Paris, that any word or combination of letters may become an Internet domain - such as .john, .love, .bucharest or .ppp. BBC adds that the decision was adopted unanimously. ICANN also decided to allow the introduction of domain names written in Arab or Asian alphabets. After years of postponing and controversies, the .xxx domain may also be approved.

"The 10-year-old organization, based in Marina del Rey, Calif., already has designated 21 generic top-level domains, such as .com and .net, and 249 country-code top-level domains, including .de for Germany and .fr for France. Users are demanding more, according to an April presentation by Tim Cole, ICANN's chief registrar liaison.

The expansion will "make a big difference in how the Internet looks and works," ICANN chairman Peter Dengate Thrush said at a news conference yesterday. "This is a historic resolution."

The group in 2000 introduced new domain names including .museum and .biz, and in 2003 added domain names such as .asia, .jobs and .travel. There are no known technical limitations to introducing new domain names, according to Cole.


ICANN chief executive Paul Twomey said the application and approval process for new names would start in April or May 2009. Noncontroversial, generic names may be approved within 90 to 120 days, and marketers would be able to start selling domain names with the new suffixes in the fourth quarter of 2009, the group said.

New domain names may have a business focus such as .perfume or .silk, or a regional focus, such as city names, the group said. If more than one entity seeks to register a suffix, ICANN said it is considering auctioning the domain", Washington Post reads.