.Asia' Launched as Internet Domain

Bidding began Tuesday for prime new pieces of Internet real estate with the launch of the ".asia" domain name, which aims to become one of the web's most desirable addresses.

The regional domain comes after the launch of the European-based .eu name last year and aims to join .com and .net as a widely used website suffix.

"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 won the right to set-up the domain.

"It provides an easier way to direct customers to your products.

"Our research has found that 'Asia' is one of the most searched-for terms and by having a .asia website, your ranking on Google or Yahoo will become much higher."

Prices for website addresses can range from as little as 10 dollars to several hundred dollars, depending on their desirability, Chung said.

Businesses with trademarks, governments and official bodies will be allowed to register website addresses ending with the suffix during the initial offer period. The general public will be allowed to bid from February.

   Firms and global brands from both inside and outside Asia were likely to be interested, and the suffix would act as a complement to country-specific domains such as .cn for China and .jp for Japan, Chung said.

   He expected tourism bodies to be some of the first groups bidding for domain names, especially those with specifically Asian slogans, such as Hong Kong's "Asia's World City" and "Malaysia. Truly Asia."

   The initial bidding period will be used to try and prevent disputes between organisations and individuals vying for a specific domain name, Chung said.

   If several claims are deemed equally valid, they will eventually be settled by an auction run by the not-for-profit group.

   Top-level domains, which include .Asia, country-specific suffixes and around 20 generic names, such as .biz or .org, are regulated by the US-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, with specific addresses sold through registrars.

Source: AFP

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