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India Inc ready to shift to other side of the dot on www

Shivani Shinde  |  Mumbai 

By this time next year, internet domain names ending with .tata, .reliance, .bharti, .SBI or even .Mahindra will be a reality.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which recently closed the process for its top-level domain programme, has received 28 applications from 15 Indian corporate houses. ICANN, which received about 2,000 applications from the world, said late last night that it would reveal the new internet addresses on June 13 and begin evaluating these names only by July 12. The evaluation process is expected to go on for six to seven months.

While confirming the group had applied for a domain name, a Tata Sons spokesperson said, “We believe it can help increase global brand visibility, enhancement of both internal and external communication, as “.tata” can become the focal point of the Tata Group’s internet presence for both internal and external users and it provides us with complete control over second-level registration and use.” Officials from the State Bank of India said they had applied for the .sbi and .statebank domain names.

Other groups like Mahindra & Mahindra and Reliance Industries are also understood to have applied for domain names.

It is after almost a decade that ICANN has opted to open the worldwide web by approving the creation of general top-level domain (gTLD) names to increase competition and choice.

Some of the other domain names that have been applied for include .web, .online, .space and .world in the generic category and .bank, .hotel and .apps, among others, in the specific category. These are part of the 31 strings applied for under gTLD names by the Mumbai-based Directi.

At present, there are about 22 top-level domain (TLD) names, which include .com, .org, .net, and .org and over 200 country-based domain names like .in (India), .us, .uk and so on.

This is also the first time that Indian registrars of domain names like Directi and Net4 will be able to participate in this process. From India alone, around 60-70 applications for domain names have been filed by registrars.

“We would be the largest applicant from India or Asia, with 31 applications. We have been working on this for more than a year. Unlike some of the other players in India, we have decided to focus on our own property and hence decided to go ahead with generic and specific categories,” said Bhavin Turakhia, CEO and founder, Directi.

The company has committed $30 million (around Rs 170 crore). Directi, claims the company, has 80 per cent market share in the domain registration industry, with a leading position in India and Asia and the eighth globally. Turakhia said in case there were multiple applications for the same domain names, then ICANN would auction them to the highest bidder. "We know the competition is tremendous in this segment. But, we are prepared to fight it out and we will participate in the auction process wherever our suggested domain names have multiple applicants," said Turakhia.

Meanwhile, the Noida-based Net4 is working closely with large business houses and brands to get their share on the internet. “We have made 28 applications for 15 companies. Some of the companies have opted for multiple domain names. We will be setting up and managing the infrastructure for these domain names,” said Jasjit Sawhney, founder chairman and CEO of Net4. The company would be investing about Rs 4-5 crore over the next year or so in building and supporting the infrastructure. This will include hardware, software and manpower.

However, there has been no representation from the Indian government segment to apply for geography-based domain names. “We did sensitise some of the state governments but so far we have not received any interest,” said Dr Govind, senior director and CEO of Nixi (National Internet Exchange of India).

In the past, there have been efforts to register Mumbai as a domain name. However, the Mumbai mayor's office did not allow it to happen.

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First Published: Fri, June 01 2012. 00:23 IST