Icann vote enters the web into a new domain

The web is set for its biggest shake up since the arrival of the lolcat after the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) voted to dramatically increase the number of domain endings.

Currently there are 21 generic top-level domain (gTLD) names - aero, asia, biz, cat, com, coop, edu, gov, info, int, jobs, mil, mobi, museum, name, net, org, pro, tel, travel and the seedy xxx - but the move means that companies and individuals will be able to pay $185,000 to set up one of their choosing.

Any word is up for grabs, in any language and in any script. So expect to see sites such as www.refreshing.coke, www.ronaldo.football or www.bieber.annoying pop up, as well as a multitude of phishing sites with confusing names and characters set to bamboozle unsuspecting victims.

"Today's decision will usher in a new internet age," said Peter Dengate Thrush, chairman of Icann's board of directors. "We have provided a platform for the next generation of creativity and inspiration. Unless there is a good reason to restrain it, innovation should be allowed to run free."

There's a mammoth 360-page-long application form should you wish to register a new domain and companies will be required to state a legitimate claim for the domain - to stop rivals parking in their spaces.

The move does not affect the 250 or so country level domains (such as .co.uk and .fr).