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‘Limitless’ domain suffixes to be made available

From next year, internet address names will be able to end with almost any word and be in any language, after the global internet body Icann voted to dramatically increase the number of possible domain endings.

At the moment there are 22 generic top-level domain names (gTLDs), including .com and .net; as well as about 250 country-level domain names such as .uk or .de.

There will now be several hundred new gTLDs available, and companies will be able to apply for their own words, rather than suffixes decided by the body. So they could include corporate names such as .google, or.coke.

Icann will begin taking applications from 12 January 2012, with corporations and cities expected to be among the first to apply.

The suffixes do not come cheap, however. It will cost $185,000 (£114,000) to apply for one and companies will need to show they have a legitimate claim to the name they wish to buy.

The vote completes a six-year negotiation process and is the biggest change to the system since .com was first introduced 26 years ago. Rod Beckstrom, president and chief executive officer for Icann, even went so far as to say: "Icann has opened the internet's addressing system to the limitless possibilities of the human imagination. No one can predict where this historic decision will take us."