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City councillor wants Toronto to have domain name but '.to' is taken

The idea was inspired by a trip to New York City, where Coun. Paul Ainslie took notes on the city’s use of “.nyc” domains.

What stands between Toronto and its own “.to” domain name? The Island Kingdom of Tonga.

Torstar News Service

What stands between Toronto and its own “.to” domain name? The Island Kingdom of Tonga.

There are more than 170 reasons Toronto will never own the “.to” domain name.

More islands than that make up the Polynesian kingdom of Tonga, the official owner of the domain a city councillor was hoping Toronto could claim.

In an item adopted by the government management committee Monday, Coun. Paul Ainslie asked city staff to research how Toronto can plant its flag on the Internet with a unique domain, a personalized dot-com for the tee-dot.

But the suggestion he included in his item, “.TO,” is already taken.

“It was the first one that came to mind,” Ainslie told the Star. “But I keep being told that Tonga has the ‘.to.’”

It’s true. In the early days of the Internet, two-letter country codes were set aside for nations to use. Tonga, an island nation of about 100,000 people in the Pacific Ocean, got .to. Canada, in turn, has “.ca.”

Not to be deterred, Ainslie says there are plenty of other names the city could use.

“It’s kind of a world’s our oyster. We could do .toronto., .six or .sixtoronto. There’s countless variations that you can look at,” he said.

The idea was inspired by a trip to New York City, where Ainslie took notes on the city’s use of “.nyc” domains.

It was one of the 66 applicants to make place-based pitches when the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) put out a call in 2012 for new so-called “top-level domains.”

If Toronto goes ahead, it will be in the company of city domains such as “.stockholm” “.melbourne” and “.london.”

But it may be years before a Toronto domain name burns into our retinas from glowing screens.

Richard Schreier, with the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, estimates the next application round could open around 2018. (A spokesperson for ICANN would not comment on a possible timeline.)

City staff will report back to the government management committee next month.

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