The internet could see its most radical shake-up in years if plans to open up the current web address system are passed.
Internet regulators will vote tomorrow (26 June) to decide if the strict rules on so-called top level domain names, such as .com or .uk, should be relaxed.
Top level domains are currently limited to individual countries, such as .uk or .it (Italy), as well as to commerce (.com) and to institutional organisations such as .net or .org.
If the plans are approved, they could allow companies to turn their brands into domain names. Individuals will also be able to register a domain based on their own name, or any other string of letters, as long as they can show a business plan and technical capacity.
Martin Warner, an independent analyst and a backer of the forthcoming Technology of Tomorrow 08 event says that the real benefit of opening up the domain types is that it will tackle the limitations of the existing domain groups.
"The sheer growth of the internet requires internet regulator Icann to address this in a way that will be embraced by the existing companies and individuals who are already on the internet and have top level domains. It will also attract new entrants to the web."
Warner said, "Perhaps the biggest problem will be transitioning to a new domain order, making every known company change from .com or .co.uk to the latest domain or a domain just representing their 'name'."
Whilst companies will be able to secure domain names based on their intellectual property easily, some domain names could become subject to contention, starting a bidding war, he said.
"The change will provide opportunities for establishing brand names, and this will be on offer to many who get in early to establish a clear identity.
"There will be costs attached to the migration of domain names however. With so many companies across the globe, there are huge benefits to having a universally recognised name on the internet", said Warner.