The starting gun sounds for the .ASIA domain landrush
Domain registrars are getting ready for what they hope is a high-demand, frantic "landrush" of domain registrations, beginning today as .asia moves toward becoming the Internet's second regional top-level domain.
Beginning today, .asia domain names can be registered at the Asia Registry (http://www.asiaregistry.com) Web site, in what ICANN refers to as a "landrush" period. URLs within the new domain will officially launch on Wednesday, March 26.
Prior to the landrush, there was a "sunrise" period during which more than 30,000 early applications were filed by companies and organizations, as opposed to individuals. But during a domain landrush, any interested party is able to register a URL without restrictions.
Thousands of domain registrars from around the world are expected to apply for .asia domain names within the next couple of weeks. The relatively low number of sunrise applications indicates a large number of companies may lose their URL trademark to cyber squatters or competitors, as regular users will be able to snap up domain names.
Rather than use a first-come/first-served system for domains, the registry allows more than one application to be filed per domain name during the application period, and an auction takes place for all domain names that receive more than one application.
According to ICANN -- the organization responsible for keeping domain names and IP addresses interoperable -- more than 70 nations in Asia, Middle East, Australia, or the Pacific Rim will be eligible to use the .asia TLD.
The first regional TLD was the successful .EU domain launch that took place in 2006.
"We are ready for something big," said Leona Chen, DotASIA Organization spokesperson. "All of our people and systems are in place, and we look forward to the commencement of the .asia landrush."
To date, the "ace.asia" domain has been won for $20,501, though most other popular domain names have been won for $7,500 or less.
According to statistics compiled by the Miniwatts Marketing Group, in December 2007, 38.7% of Internet users came from Asia, with that number steadily growing. With almost 60% of the world's population and reportedly more than 500 million Internet users, .asia could have as significant a presence on the Internet landscape as .com.