ICANN says new domain names could come in mid-2008

New Internet addresses for general use could start appearing in the summer of 2008 under a timeline the Internet's key oversight agency announced, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) invited public comment on procedures for creating new names, the first expansion for general use since 2000.

Names added since then have been limited to specific regions or industries, it added.

Domain names are key for helping computers find Web sites and route email, the report said.

There are currently about 250 domain name suffixes, most of them for specific countries such as '.fr' for France. General-use names include '.com' and '.net,' it added.

In 2000, two years after its designation by the US government as the authority for overseeing Internet naming policies, ICANN approved seven new names, but only '.info' and '.biz' were truly for general use, the Associated Press report said.

ICANN solicited additional applications in 2004 and has approved six regional or industry-specific names, such as '.travel' and '.asia,' while rejecting '.xxx' for the adult entertainment industry, it said.

ICANN did not specify how individuals and groups would be able to seek new names, but the group indicated that the procedures would be streamlined to permit 'a much wider variety of them to be added in a timely, predictable and efficient manner,' the report further said.