Bidding has began "prime new pieces" of internet property with the launch of the ".asia" domain name.

The regional domain follows the launch of the European-based .eu name last year and is planned to complement country-specific domains such as .cn for China and .jp for Japan.

"The .asia domain acts like a channel or a portal, showing your commitment to the Asia market as a whole", said Edmon Chung from DotAsia, a Hong Kong-based group that are have set-up the domain.

Businesses with trademarks, governments and official bodies get first dibs on domains, with the general public not allowed to bid on address until February next year.

Prices for the .asia domains range from 10 dollars to several hundred dollars, depending on their desirability. If several groups claim the rights to the same address, it will be auctioned to the highest bidder.