Next year may see an explosion of new web top-level domains. As the Associated Press reports, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has approved new guidelines that will allow the introduction of "hundreds, perhaps thousands" of new TLDs for locations (e.g. .nyc or .berlin) or industries (e.g. .bank).
The AP says names probably won't start showing up until at least 2009, as ICANN must still work out some details—like what to charge for the introduction of new TLDs. Reportedly, TLDs may cost as much as $100,000 a piece to implement. Companies and organizations proposing new domains will also be subject to an initial review phase, during which "anyone may raise an objection on such grounds as racism, trademark conflicts and similarity to an existing suffix."
Along with this decision, the AP says ICAAN has agreed to "open public comment on a separate proposal to permit addresses entirely in non-English languages for the first time." The agency also "approved recommendations" for measures against so-called domain name testing, where firms purchase many domain names, see which ones attract the most traffic, and get the other ones refunded before a five-day time limit. ICANN plans to stop refunding companies who seek refunds on too many domains.