Q&A on plans to expand the Internet address system

Associated Press Modified: June 13, 2012 at 5:30 pm •  Published: June 13, 2012
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NEW YORK (AP) — Proposals for Internet addresses ending in ".pizza," ''.space" and ".auto" are among the nearly 2,000 submitted as part of the largest expansion in the online address system.

Apple Inc., Sony Corp. and American Express Co. are among companies that sought names with their brands. Google Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. sought dozens of names, including ".app," and ".play." The wine company Gallo Vineyards Inc. wants ".barefoot."

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers announced the proposals for Internet suffixes, the ".com" part of an Internet address, Wednesday. They now go through a review process that could take months or years.

Here are some questions and answers regarding plans to expand the Internet address system:

Q. What are domain names?

A. Think of them as shortcuts for navigating the Internet. Just as it's easier to find the Empire State Building at 350 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan rather than through its GPS coordinates, it's easier to type in "google.com" rather than remember "173.194.79.99." Google and other search engines have reduced the need for domain names. But these search engines are essentially catalogs of the Internet, and they depend on the domain name to take you to what you're looking for. Also, domain names aren't used only for websites. The part after the "at" symbol in email addresses is the domain name.

Q. How many domain names are there?

A. There are millions of domain names including "bbc.co.uk" and "microsoft.com." If you're just thinking of the suffix, formally known as the top-level domain name, there are currently 313. The most popular is ".com," with about 100 million names registered. Anybody willing to pay $10 or less a year can get one. Others are restricted to certain groups, including ".aero" for the aviation industry and ".edu" for U.S. colleges and universities. The bulk of the suffixes are two-letter designations for countries and territories, such as ".fr" for France and ".aq" for Antarctica. Some countries also have suffixes in their native languages, so websites in China can use the Chinese equivalent of China rather than ".cn."



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