New gTLDs represent one of the most fundamental changes to the domain name system since it was first created.
The new system will effectively give any organisation or collective the right to apply to become a registry for their own, unique domain name. Virtually any TLD will be admissible, with a limit of 64 characters, including regional suffixes, generic words, brand names and non-Roman characters.
The opening application period will run from 12 January to 12 April, but [ICANN chief executive and president Rod] Beckstrom admitted that there are still some issues to be ironed out with the new scheme.
“These include support for needy applicants and a discussion of the timing of the next application round,” he explained.
- ICANN Stands Ready for New gTLD Launch (via ICANN Blog)
- gTLD fact sheet (PDF)
See Also: From the Founder of Wolfram|Alpha, Steven Wolfram: “A .data Top-Level Internet Domain?”