The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has voted in favour of relaxing the tight rules over top level domains such as .com and .co.uk – meaning that the internet could have the likes of .sex, .bank and .berlin by 2009.

The vote to loosen rules was always likely to be approved, but in the end a unanimous decision was made to allow a myriad of '.whatevers' starting from next year.

Indeed, anyone will be able to register a domain based on their own name, or whatever they desire, as long as they can show a "business plan and technical capacity".

Brave new world

"We are opening up a new world and I think this cannot be underestimated," said ICANN member Roberto Gaetano.

But before you rush out to create the .tech address, bear in mind that early estimates are that it would cost in the region of $100,000. That's more than £50,000.

The move could also spell the last puffings of the gravy train for those countries who were assigned desirable high level domains.

Tuvala, a Polynesian island, currently leases its .tv assigned name to a company for $1 million a year – but will they still be so desirable when companies can have a .television or even a .theircompany name?

Early adopters

Geographical names such as .berlin, .ldn (London) and .ny (New York) are likely to be among the first domains to be created, although genre names like .bank, .sex and .tech are unlikely to be far behind.

Many of the world's most powerful brands will be racing to secure their own company names as domains, so expect to see the likes of .ebay and .msn surfacing in the not too distant future.

It's all set to be one of the most radical changes to the internet since its inception, and it remains to be seen if - ultimately - it will help or hinder navigation of the web.