ICANN Approves .eu Domain Space

The European Union (EU) can now make a name for itself on the Internet, following this week’s approval to include .eu as a country code top-level domain (ccTLD).

Directors at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) approved the new name space at a meeting Monday. Officials at EURid, who will take over registry management of the ccTLD, expect final approval from the U.S. Department of Commerce within the next week.

“Having .eu in the root sets the green light for the launch of .eu,” Marc Van Wesemael, EURid general manager, said in a statement. “Over the next
few months we will be working very hard on the final preparations with the
aim of launching the .eu sunrise period later this year.”

The sunrise period is the time before the public launch of a new domain
extension when trademark holders can register for a domain name in advance.

EURid officials expect to conduct the sunrise offering sometime before the
end of the year. A registrar agreement should be available in May,
officials also said.

The decision could create some confusion in Europe as member nations come to
grips with the existence of two ccTLDs that define their country’s Internet
existence.

Karl Auerbach, a former ICANN board of director, welcomed the
latest TLD entry in a blog post earlier this week but wondered if states in
the United States or Canada, which retain a great deal of self-sovereignty,
might apply for their own ccTLD. Alternatively, he mused, would EU member
nations like France, the United Kingdom or German have to relinquish their
own ccTLDs?

Kieran Baker, a spokesman at ICANN, would not comment on the speculation,
pointing to the popularity of Germany’s .de, the second largest domain
extension on the planet, as well as the United Kingdom’s .uk, which ranks
fourth in popularity worldwide.

He did say he thinks there will be e-commerce benefits that come from such a
domain extension, but that its under EURid’s purview.

Officials from the proposed registry were not available for comment at press
time.

In related news, two proposed sponsored TLDs (sTLDs) just completed
technical and commercial negotiations with ICANN on Thursday afternoon.
Tralliance, registry for the .travel domain extension, and EmployMedia LLC,
the registry for .jobs, now await final approval from ICANN’s board of
directors.

If approved, the two companies will serve as registry operators for a
10-year term.

A sTLD, which caters to a specialized community or industry, differs
slightly from the .com’s and .net’s of the world. Where policy in a gTLD is
determined by ICANN, sTLD policy comes from the registry operator of the
domain extension.

They are two of four proposed domain extensions working through the
negotiation phase at the organization. No mention was made on the status of
the other two proposed sTLDs, .mobi and .post. Negotiations began in
October 2004 for .travel and .post, while .jobs and .mobi talks
started in December 2004.

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