The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)

ICANN is the organization responsible for overseeing the Internet Naming system. Without ICANN, a website address would be nothing except for a series of difficult to remember numbers. ICANN coordinates a system to allow the assignment of domain names to corresponding IP addresses, so that when a user types in www.CNN.com anywhere in the world, he/she is directed to the CNN website.

ICANN achieves this by authorizing Top Level Domain operators to create Top Level Domains, such as .COM and .NET. ICANN then authorizes Registrars, such as GoDaddy.com, to sell domain names within those Top Level Domains to the public.

The chart below shows some of the key players in the Internet Naming system.

Every Top Level Domain is revenue-generating business owned and operated by an individual company. For example, Verisign, Inc. owns the .COM Top Level Domain and receives $7.85 for every domain name sold. Verisign, Inc. owns and operates the .com, .net, .cc, .tv, and .name Top Level Domains and also provides back-end systems for all .gov, .jobs and .edu Top Level Domains. As a result of these activities, Verisign, Inc. generated $874 Million in revenues in 2012 according to its Annual Report, primarily from its .COM business operations.

On October 30, 2009, ICANN approved a fast track process for the awarding of new IDN ccTLDs and such new IDN ccTLDs have started to be introduced into the root.

On June 13, 2012, ICANN announced it received 1930 applications to operate over 1400 unique new gTLDs, with new registration opportunities expected to be available beginning in 2013.

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