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Fresh hope for .cymru sites with new web domains.

A CAMPAIGN for Wales to have its own internet domain name has received a boost after it was announced thousands of new web addresses are to be released.

Website domains on themes as varied as political causes, company brands and country names will be made available as part of the biggest internet shake-up since its launch 26 years ago.

Anyone with pounds 115,000 will be able to buy new domain names when the bidding opens in January 2012.

The opportunity will also allow web domains to use characters from other languages, including Arabic and Chinese.

The decision comes seven months after Welsh campaigners lost their four-year fight for the .cym web space to the Cayman Islands.

Leaders of the DotCYM project are now confident they will finally win a Wales-specific web domain when the bidding opens next year.

Sin Jobbins, chief executive of the DotCYM organisation - which now hopes to secure the .cymru web address - said he was pleased with the move.

"From what I have read there are a few things that need to be decided, but now we can work on preparing for the bid," he said. "It makes sense that .cymru is recognised. Businesses want to promote their product or service as a Welsh one, whether it's a hotel, a food store or a shop."

The decision to free up internet domains was made by international watchdogs the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) at a meeting in Singapore.

It comes after six years of negotiations and represents the biggest change to the system since ".com" made its debut in 1984.

Peter Dengate Thrush, chairman of ICANN's board of directors, said: "This is the start of a whole new phase for the internet.

"Unless there is a good reason to restrain it, innovation should be allowed to run free."

Experts say well-known entertainment, consumer goods and finance companies are likely to be among the first to apply for their own domain names in a bid to protect their brands.

Theo Hnarakis is the chief executive of Melbourne IT,which manages online brands for clients such as Volvo, LEGO and GlaxoSmith-Kline. He said: "It will allow corporations to better take control of their brands. For example, .apple or .ipad would take customers right to those products."

There are currently 290 country suffixes, such as ".jp" for Japan and ".fr" for France, that exist online. They are often are restricted to groups or individuals with a presence in the countries.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 22, 2011
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