|.aero||the air transport industry.|
|.arpa||reserved exclusively to support operationally-critical infrastructural identifier spaces as advised by the Internet Architecture Board|
|.asia||companies. organisations and individuals in the Asia-Pacific region|
|.com||commercial organizations, but unrestricted|
|.edu||postsecondary educational establishments|
|.gov||government entities within the United States at the federal, state, and local levels|
|.info||informational sites, but unrestricted|
|.int||international organizations established by treaty|
|.mil||the U.S. military|
|.mobi||sites catering to mobile devices|
|.name||families and individuals|
|.net||originally for network infrastructures, now unrestricted|
|.org||originally for organizations not clearly falling within the other gTLDs, now unrestricted|
|.tel||services involving connections between the telephone network and the Internet|
|.travel||travel agents, airlines, hoteliers, tourism bureaus, etc.|
- generic top-level domains (gTLD)
- infrastructure top-level domain (.arpa)
- country-code top-level domains (ccTLD)
- sponsored top-level domains (sTLD)
- generic-restricted top-level domains
The core group of generic top-level domains consists of the .com, .info, .net, and .org domains. In addition, the domains .biz, .name, and .pro are also considered "generic"; however, these are designated as "generic-restricted", and registrations within them are supposed to require proof of eligibility within the guidelines set for each.
Historically, the group of generic top-level domains included domains that were created in the early development of the domain name system (DNS), notably .edu, .gov, .int, .mil. However, these domains now have all been sponsored by appropriate agencies or organization and are now considered sponsored top-level domains, much a like the many newly created "themed" domain names (cf. sponsored top-level domains). This entire group of non-country-code top-level domains, domains that do not have a geographic or country designation, is still often referred to by the term "generic".
The initial set of top-level domains, defined by RFC 920 in October 1984, was a set of "general purpose domains." These were:
The .net domain was added with the first implementation of these domains. The .com, .net, and .org TLDs, despite their original different uses, are now in practice open for use by anybody for any purpose.
In November 1988, another TLD was introduced, .int. This TLD was introduced in response to NATO's request for a domain name which adequately reflected its character as an international organization. It was also originally planned to be used for some Internet infrastructure databases, such as .ip6.int, the IPv6 equivalent of .in-addr.arpa. However, in May 2000, the Internet Architecture Board proposed to close the .int domain to new infrastructure databases. All future databases of this type would be created in .arpa (a legacy of the pre-TLD system), and existing ones would move to .arpa wherever feasible, which led to the use of .ip6.arpa for IPv6 reverse lookups.
By the mid-1990s there was pressure for more TLDs to be introduced. Jon Postel, as head of IANA, invited applications from interested parties. In early 1995, Postel created "Draft Postel," an Internet draft containing the procedures to create new domain name registries and new TLDs. Draft Postel created a number of small committees to approve the new TLDs. Because of the increasing interest, a number of large organizations took over the process under the Internet Society's umbrella. This second attempt involved setting up a temporary organization called the International Ad Hoc Committee (IAHC). On February 4, 1997, the IAHC issued a report ignoring the Draft Postel recommendations and instead recommended the introduction of seven new TLDs (.arts, .firm, .info, .nom, .rec, .store, and .web). However, progress on this stalled after the U.S. government intervened and nothing ever came of it.
In September 1998, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was created to take over the task of managing domain names. After a call for proposals (August 15, 2000) and a brief period of public consultation, ICANN announced on November 16, 2000 its selection of the following seven new TLDs:
These new gTLDs started to come into use in June 2001, and by the end of that year all except .pro existed, with .biz, .info and .museum already in full operation. .name and .coop became fully operational in January 2002, and .aero followed later in the year. .pro became a gTLD in May 2002, but did not become fully operational until June 2004.
ICANN is adding further TLDs, starting with a set of sponsored top-level domains (like the previous .aero, .coop, and .museum). The application period for these lasted from December 15, 2003 until March 16, 2004, and resulted in ten applications. As of June 2005, ICANN had announced the approval in principle of several new TLDs:
2009: unrestricted gTLDs
Currently, new registrations are limited to a set of gTLDs that had been approved by ICANN, such as .com and .org, but with the new program, organizations will be able to apply to reserve their own gTLD. For example, Microsoft could apply for .msn, Google for .google, or New York City for .nyc. The new system's implementation plan is expected to be published in 2009. It then must be approved by the ICANN Board before the system is implemented. ICANN is currently aiming to have applications for domains starting in the second quarter of 2009.
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