Internet body approves '.asia' domain

A key oversight agency has approved a '.asia' domain for Internet addresses, supplementing suffixes available for individual countries, such as '.cn' for China and '.jp' for Japan, an Associated Press report said.

The report said the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) earlier approved '.eu' for the European Union.

Made up of groups that ran domain names for China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and other countries, the DotAsia Organization planned to explore permitting domain names in Asian languages under '.asia.'

ICANN had also been exploring allowing suffixes in other languages, too, though that would take time and was unaffected by Wednesday's decision on '.asia,' the report said.

Finalizing the contract between ICANN and DotAsia could take weeks.

Registrations for English-language names were not expected for another six to nine months. Prices would vary, and trademark holders would get the first picks, the report said.

More than 260 domain name suffixes exist, mostly country codes such as '.fr' for France. Recent additions include '.cat' for the Catalan language and '.mobi' for mobile services.

Demand for the new names has generally been low, compared with old-timers like '.com,' which has about 57 million names, according to the report.