Two new top-level Internet domains (TLDs) -- .biz and .info -- went live Wednesday, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) said in a statement Tuesday.
ICANN approved the names last month. ICANN has yet to approve five other TLDs -- .name, .pro, .aero, .coop, and .museum -- which were proposed last November.
These are the first new official TLDs since the original group, including .com and .org, were launched in the 1980s, ICANN said.
Initially, the .biz and .info TLDs will be used for informational Web sites run by NeuLevel (http://www.neulevel.biz/) and Afilias (http://www.afilias.info/), the two companies selected by ICANN to run the TLDs.
Registration of names ending with .biz and .info will be available from September through over 90 accredited registrars, ICANN said in the statement.
ICANN has been criticised in some quarters for being slow to approve new TLDs, as a consequence of its monopoly over the TLD approval process. In response, ICANN said it has a responsibility to ensure long-term Internet stability and to be able to guarantee new TLDs will work properly for every Internet user wherever they are.
A prominent ICANN critic, New.net, has introduced 30 TLDs without ICANN's agreement, relying on special client software that allows a user's computer to find the domains on the Internet. New.net also has agreements with several Internet service providers in the US, UK and Europe that are automatically set up to recognise these unauthorised domains.
Registrar VeriSign also offers simulated TLDs by using the country code TLDs (ccTLDs) of a few small nations. In this way, companies can use .tv (Tuvalu), .nu (Niue), .cc (Cocos & Keeling Islands) and .bz (Belize) as relevant-sounding TLDs.