Tonight, at 10pm Australian EST, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will unveil the list of applications for new top-level domains (TLDs), which will allow organisations to register 'dot word' domains along the lines of .bank and .web.
Australian organisations known to have applied for new TLDs include the AFL, internet service provider iiNet, and the NSW and Victorian governments. In Western Australia, physiotherapist Glenn Ruscoe has applied for .physio.
Ruscoe, part of Perth physiotherapist practice Risely Physiotherapy, says that he had the idea for the domain after reading a newspaper article on TLDs in July last year. "I thought, 'I'd like to have one of them for my practice,'" he says.
He liked the idea of registering a risely.physio domain. "When I thought a bit more I thought it was unlikely someone in my profession would do this, so I may as well do it," Ruscoe says.
He contacted Melbourne IT, which provided Web services for his practice, and ended up working with ARI Registry Services, which has worked with Melbourne IT on TLD applications (as well as some applications independent of the other company).
"I did some research around the size of the potential market," Ruscoe says. "So there are 700,000 physiotherapists in the world and I felt they would be as equally enthusiastic about the opportunity. So the value for me is selling second level domains to my colleagues."
Unlike .com-style domains, successful applicants for the new round of TLDs will be able to set stringent guidelines for their domains, meaning that the new TLDs can be curated, with websites restricted to those that meet particular criteria. Ruscoe intends to limit registrations in the .physio domain to accredited physiotherapists and physiotherapy practices.
"The strength of the .physio name is the ability to exclude those people who are not physiotherapists," he says.
"[Applicants will] need to identify their qualifications or their registration, depending on which country they're in."
Ruscoe is yet to determine a pricing scheme for .physio domains.
"The market is a physiotherapist who has an email account or an internet presence, so I plan on working with the professional associations to identify those people," he says.
In November, Rucsoe's plan received the blessing of the World Confederation of Physical Therapy, which counts 106 physiotherapy organisations as members. He also has the support of the Australian Physiotherapy Association
Ruscoe says that the professional physiotherapy associations were "torn" between concerns over the domain being controlled by a private, for-profit entity (he has established a company called Physbiz to manage the domain) and "realising that it required some entrepreneurialism to make it work ".
"Part of my getting their endorsement was promising to engage with all of them consult with them regarding processes, so I do anticipate working in a co-operative way with the associations, with the community, because it's going to be a better outcome when everyone has buy in and involvement in the processes," he says.
The delay in the application process, after ICANN discovered a glitch in its systems, was "frustrating", Ruscoe says. He's also frustrated about the batching process ICANN has said it will use, with the 1900 or so TLD applications ICANN has received being processed 500 at a time. "As a person who wishes to monetise [the domain], I want to get started as soon as possible so it's very frustrating to get put in the fourth batch if that eventuates."
Ruscoe is yet to make a big marketing push for the domain. "I've been keeping it very quiet to date, [but] now the application period has closed I'm happy to start talking about it," he says.
"I don't want to get people too excited because if I end up in the fourth batch it's going to be a long wait."
Ruscoe has established a dotphysio.com website to let interested parties follow the progress of his application.