The .whateveryouwant Internet Address

Twenty five years after the creation of “.com,” the agency that assigns internet addresses is loosening its rules and allowing other suffixes to enter the game.

Under guidelines approved Monday, banks could register addresses that end in “.bank,” environmental groups could go after “.eco,” and the possibilities continue.

More than 300 suffixes are available today, but only a few (“.net,” “.com,” etc), are open for general use worldwide. Hundreds of new suffixes could be established by late next year, thousands in years to come.

“This is the start of a whole new phase for the internet,” said Peter Dengate Thrush, chairman of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the California nonprofit organization in charge of internet addresses.

A personal address with a common suffix such as “.com” usually costs less than $10 a year, but the new addresses will cost about $185,000 to apply and $25,000 a year to maintain.

ICANN says it costs tens of millions of dollars to write the guidelines for suffixes, review applications and resolve disputes. Even with the high fees, the organization plans to only break even.

The expansion plan took over six years to develop as concerns over trademark infringements and obscenities made it more difficult to agree upon specific guidelines.

ICANN will start taking applications for new suffixes Jan. 12, 2012. High-profile entertainment, products and financial-service companies will probably be among the first to apply for new suffixes to protect their brands.

Source: Alex Kennedy, Associated Press