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Deadline at Hand to Apply for New Top Level Domains

Is it your dream to own .engineer? Today's your last chance.

2 min read
Deadline at Hand to Apply for New Top Level Domains

Today is your last chance to apply for your own top-level domain name—.engineer, for example, or .reallywhateveryouwant. (That's assuming you already registered, or else you're out of time already.)

For the past three months, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which regulates addresses on the Web, has been accepting such applications (at US $185,000 a pop) as part of a controversial program it says will “expand the domain name system (DNS) and change the Internet forever.”

ICANN originally anticipated approving between 300 and 1,000 new top-level domains. That’s a huge jump from the existing 22 generic ones (.com, .gov, .edu, .biz, etc.) plus another 250 or so country codes (.fr, .ly, .ru). Under the new paradigm, any name is up for grabs (including non-Latin characters), although you must prove you are financially and technically capable of running a domain registry under your new name.

Proponents of the expansion say it will spur innovation and entrepreneurship online by allowing more businesses and communities to create and manage their own top-level domains. However, critics—including the Association of National Advertisers and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration—worry that the explosion of new addresses will increase spamming, confuse consumers, and pressure companies uninterested in running registries to buy them just to protect their brands.

It’s still a bit of a mystery as to who is applying to run these new registries under which names. But it seems that large brand-name companies from the entertainment and financial sectors are the most likely candidates, according to research released last June by the Australian domain name registration company Melbourne IT. Of 150 organizations surveyed, 92 percent said they’d probably pick a ".brand" domain name. For example, Canon said publically it would apply for .canon, and Hitachi hopes to own .hitachi. Other companies seem to prefer generic extensions, such as .hotel, .phone or .book.

ICANN says it will release the official list of applicants and their proposed names on April 30th, give or take a few days depending on how flooded they are with proposals. As of March 25th, 839 applications had registered with their system, each of whom are allowed to apply for up to 50 new names. If all goes as planned, the first new domain names should start to appear within a year.

[Image source: Melbourne IT]

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Metamaterials Could Solve One of 6G’s Big Problems

There’s plenty of bandwidth available if we use reconfigurable intelligent surfaces

12 min read
An illustration depicting cellphone users at street level in a city, with wireless signals reaching them via reflecting surfaces.

Ground level in a typical urban canyon, shielded by tall buildings, will be inaccessible to some 6G frequencies. Deft placement of reconfigurable intelligent surfaces [yellow] will enable the signals to pervade these areas.

Chris Philpot

For all the tumultuous revolution in wireless technology over the past several decades, there have been a couple of constants. One is the overcrowding of radio bands, and the other is the move to escape that congestion by exploiting higher and higher frequencies. And today, as engineers roll out 5G and plan for 6G wireless, they find themselves at a crossroads: After years of designing superefficient transmitters and receivers, and of compensating for the signal losses at the end points of a radio channel, they’re beginning to realize that they are approaching the practical limits of transmitter and receiver efficiency. From now on, to get high performance as we go to higher frequencies, we will need to engineer the wireless channel itself. But how can we possibly engineer and control a wireless environment, which is determined by a host of factors, many of them random and therefore unpredictable?

Perhaps the most promising solution, right now, is to use reconfigurable intelligent surfaces. These are planar structures typically ranging in size from about 100 square centimeters to about 5 square meters or more, depending on the frequency and other factors. These surfaces use advanced substances called metamaterials to reflect and refract electromagnetic waves. Thin two-dimensional metamaterials, known as metasurfaces, can be designed to sense the local electromagnetic environment and tune the wave’s key properties, such as its amplitude, phase, and polarization, as the wave is reflected or refracted by the surface. So as the waves fall on such a surface, it can alter the incident waves’ direction so as to strengthen the channel. In fact, these metasurfaces can be programmed to make these changes dynamically, reconfiguring the signal in real time in response to changes in the wireless channel. Think of reconfigurable intelligent surfaces as the next evolution of the repeater concept.

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