London set to gain own domain name


Businesses could be able to apply for .london web addresses by the end of the year when new internet domain names come into existence.

AIM-listed start-up Top-Level Domain Holdings (TLDH) has been appointed to help London & Partners apply for and manage the .london domain name.

TLDH will use its London-based subsidiary Minds and Machines Limited to work with London & Partners’ Dot London Domains Limited on the project.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is responsible for distributing the new domain names. Currently, there are just 22 top level domains in use, along with 252 names assigned to individual countries.

Technology writer and broadcaster Olly Mann said: “What we have seen in all of these markets is that once a big boy goes for it then the smaller ones follow.

“In terms of brand names, a lot of the brands said they wouldn’t want a .pepsi or .mcdonalds, but as soon as one jumps then they all jump because there is a small risk someone else might buy it. Even though they probably would win a legal challenge, it would be costly.

“If enough businesses buy .london then a lot will follow. A lot of non-profit groups seem to be interested in consolidating their website under one banner. It makes it clear that you are looking at a London branch of local government.”

New York and Mumbai are among the other major cities around the world planning to apply for their own domain names, while Google has confirmed it will seek to gain its own domain.

Running a domain name will not be cheap however, as it will cost $185,000 (£116,000) just to apply plus the substantial annual costs. However, firms will be able to sell names in their domain onto businesses and people.

But Mann is sceptical about how important a domain name is in the age of Facebook, Twitter and search giant Google.

He said: “The bottom line with all of this stuff is that people don’t really look at the suffix any more. A lot of web traffic comes through social networks which shorten URLs, so you don’t know what you’re looking at anyway. The rest tends to come through Google.

“The jury is out. The certain winner is iCANN, which will get thousands of dollars for each of these suffixes that are established.”

ICANN will reveal the names applied for at the end of the month, with the first few names likely to be available by the end of the year.