What is a gTLD?

R. Kayne

Generic top-level domain (gTLD) refers to those Internet domains with general address extensions. For example, .com, .net, .edu, .gov and .mil all belong to the category known as gTLD. The other category of Internet domain names is country code top-level domain (ccTLD). This category applies a country code for the extension, such as .us for the United States, .fr for France and .uk for the United Kingdom.

Man holding computer
Man holding computer

The original intention of the gTLD .com was that it would be used for commercial business exclusively, while the gTDL .net was intended for networks and Internet service providers (ISPs). Both extensions became used for general purposes as the Internet flourished and many people wanted domains that did not neatly fall into an existing gTLD category. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the non-profit organization that oversees Internet domain assignments. In November 2000, ICANN approved additional gTLDs including .biz for businesses, .pro for professionals and .name for individuals. Other approvals followed in June 2005 that were still in the process of implementation as of spring 2006.

Extensions that currently fall into the gTLD category are listed below with their intended use:

  • .arpa – Address and Routing Parameter Area (Internet infrastructure)
  • .com – Commercial but used generally
  • .net – Networks and ISPs but used generally
  • .edu – Educational institutions
  • .org – Organizations
  • .gov – Government
  • .mil – Military
  • .int – International organizations by treaty
  • .tv – Sites related to television media
  • .biz – Businesses
  • .coop – Co-operative businesses (e.g. credit unions)
  • .pro – Licensed Professionals (e.g. accountants, lawyers, doctors)
  • .name – Individuals and families
  • .info – Informational sites
  • .aero – Air transport
  • .museum – Museums
  • .jobs – Employment

Still coming to the gTLD are:

  • .mobi – Mobile technology devices
  • .travel – Travel related businesses
  • .post – Postal Services
  • .tel – Services such as Voice over IP (VoIP)
  • .kid – Kids
  • .cat – Catalonian sites
  • .asia – Asian sites

ICANN considers many proposals for the gTLD category, several of which have been rejected, including .site and .dot. On 6 May 2006, ICANN voted down the .xxx extension for adult content sites. Their vote was reportedly based at least in part on issues raised in public comments generated on the ICANN feedback site. While many encourage ICANN to add additional extensions in order to make room for the multitude of sites that are created each year, others feel this is a bad idea. Those opposed claim additional gTLD extensions encourage cybersquatting and trademark infringement.

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