DSTI/ICCP/TISP(2004)2/FINAL 
TOP LEVEL DOMAIN NAME GROWTH IN OECD COUNTRIES 
Introducing Top Level Domain Names 
The Domain Name System (DNS) helps users navigate the Internet. Every device connected to the 
Internet has a unique address called its  IP address  (Internet Protocol address). Because IP addresses 
(which are strings of numbers) are hard to remember, the DNS allows a string of letters or a combination 
string of letters and numbers (the  domain name ) to be substituted. Whereas numeric IP addresses 
(
e.g.
 192.11.0.54) generally contain no signification to users, domain names may contain a meaning or 
signify a relationship with a registrant (
e.g.
 oecd.org). It is this feature of domain names that can give them 
a value, in the domain name market, over and above their functional utility.  
Domain names are composed under a hierarchical structure. This hierarchical structure of the DNS is 
supported by the dot ( . ). A sequence of letters which is called the label, divided by the dot, makes up one 
complete domain name. The highest hierarchical level of the DNS is called the top level domain (TLD) 
which is the last right label of the domain names (
e.g.
  
.org 
 in  oecd.org  or  
.jp
  in  sony.co.jp ). The 
hierarchy of the DNS descends in the order from right to left. The label to the left of the TLD is called the 
second level top level domain (
e.g.
  oecd  in  oecd.org  or  .co  in  sony.co.jp ).  
The TLDs can be generally categorised into two categories. One is the country code top level domain 
(ccTLD) which is designated to countries or regions and is represented by a two letter label based on the 
ISO 3166 1 standard (
e.g.
  
.jp
  for Japan,  
.au
  for Australia and  
.at
  for Austria). In March 2004, there 
were 243 ccTLDs in existence. In contrast, generic top level domains (gTLD) have traditionally not been 
related to geography but to generic forms of use (
e.g.
.com
 for commercial use or 
.int
 for international 
organisations). 
There are two types of gTLDs: sponsored TLDs (sTLDs) and unsponsored TLDs (uTLDs). The 
uTLDs are managed under general gTLDs policies established by the Internet Corporation for Assigned 
Names and Numbers (ICANN). In contrast, sTLDs are managed by a sponsor organisation which 
establishes policies and practices for the management of that sTLD.  Some sTLDs are reserved for the use 
of a particular community. This group of stakeholders are sometimes referred to as the Sponsored TLD 
Community. The domain name 
.museum
, for example, is operated by the Museum Domain Management 
Association (MuseDoma), a not for profit trade organisation established by the International Council for 
Museums (ICOM). This sTLD is exclusively for the museum community and only genuine museums, 
museums associations and museum professionals can register a second level domain name under 
.museum
.    
As of March 2004 there were 14 gTLDs and one TLD reserved for Internet infrastructure purposes 
(
Table 1). 
Among the `original gTLDs',
first created in the 1980s,
 .com
,
 .net 
and
 .org
 are uTLDs 
while 
.edu
, 
.gov
,
 .int 
and 
.mil
 are sTLDs. Among the `new gTLDs', approved by ICANN in November 
2000, 
.biz
, 
.info
,
 .name 
and
 .pro
 are uTLDs while
 .aero
, 
.coop 
and
 .museum
 are sTLDs. 
Registration under sTLDs is restricted to their respective communities. For the main part this does not 
relate to location but to other eligibility requirements. The domain 
.edu
 is for educational institutions that 
are accredited by an agency on the United States Department of Education's list of Nationally Recognized 
6 




  

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