Internet Service Providers such as iiNet have been lobbying for and applying for the first top level domain names for Australians since the service was opened up for customers from down under. A growing list of companies in Australia are banding together to move away from the traditional domain names (the .com was usually reserved for and identified with united states companies) and working towards their own endings that are more personal, such as .sydney, .brisbane or .melbourne.

iiNet could be one of the only Australian telcos who do take this step though, as the cut off date for applications is on April 12 and the other big players, Telstra and Opus, have confirmed they are not interested in this option at this satge. NBN and TPG are also not expected to take this step at the moment.

The process is of course not as simple as just changing the domain name, because of branding and re-branding concerns. Most likely, hundreds of millions of dollars will need to be spent on advertising and other related needs to harmonise the new top level domain names with the image of every company in Australia who does decide to take this step.

Even if a company has no intentions of taking this option yet, they would do well to look into purchasing related top level domain names now while they still can and simply looking to create a redirect to their currently existing web real estate. This is a protective measure of course and all companies should look into it to prevent their precious web property from falling victim to “domain squatting” and frivolous lawsuits.

Although Australia traditionally is at the forefront of IT presence in the world and driving innovations and new technologies by becoming part of developing trends, for some reason on the top level domain name registry issue they are falling behind. Adrian Kinderis, CEO of the gTLD Registry ARI in Melbourne says that he does not really understand why this is — whether it’s the marketing departments who does not understand the issue, the IT departments who cannot figure out what they can do with top level domains, or whether it’s something we can blame on the economy, as usual.

Of course, cost could very well be the reason, as the application alone costs $185,000 and companies spend an average of over $1 million in setting up the DNS servers and databases required to run these top level domains.

But although they adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach, by then it could very well be too late and legal fees spent recovering domains taken by squatters could amount to much more.