You can't spell dot-com without com

ICANN will accept suggestions from domain registrars for alternative domain name suffixes later this year, with new industry-specific "global top-level domains" (gTLDs), such as .tel or .web, likely to be in operation by the beginning of 2001.

However, Bloch said it was unlikely the new gTLDs would attain the same level of popularity as existing gTLDs.

"There's a perception that .com is the only game in town," he said. "I don't think they (new gTLDs) will have that much of an impact."

Bloch admitted that the popularity of the .com gTLD was "breaking at the seams", but he expects trends in domain name endings will "filter down" to country-specific endings, such as .com.au, rather than in favour of the industry-specific endings suggested by ICANN.

".com.au is far from full," he said.

Nevertheless, NetRegistry, which registers most global domain names, will offer registration services for the new gTLDs.

ICANN imposed a fee of $50,000 on companies wanting to secure rights to the new gTLDs, but Bloch said NetRegistry would not have to pay this fee because his company buys and onsells registrations from rival registry Melbourne IT, which is expected to foot the bill in conjunction with other registrars.

With around 160,000 domain names ending in .com.au and almost 40,000 ending in .au.com, NetRegistry claims a market share of around 12 per cent, Bloch said.

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