Melbourne has become the first “big” Australian new gTLD to announce its launch, with ARI Registry Services announcing they have signed a ten-year contract with the Victorian Government to manage all functions in the operation of the .melbourne gTLD.”The management of .melbourne on behalf of Victorian Government and the City of Melbourne is going to be one of the largest and most significant digital branding opportunities for this State and it’s a major achievement for ARI Registry Services to win this contract for the next 10 years,” Adrian Kinderis, CEO of ARI Registry Services. The other big one will be the contract to operate .sydney that is expected to be announced in coming months.”The Government understands that operating .melbourne requires mission critical Internet infrastructure and they’ve chosen ARI Registry Services because we’re a proven leader in the field.””Some of the world’s largest and most recognised brands will sit alongside .melbourne on our systems and we’re incredibly proud to be an Australian technology company kicking major goals on the global stage.”The .melbourne gTLD beat .sydney, mainly because it received a higher priority number. But it does give Melbourne some bragging rights that it will come to market some months before its rival. It is expected General Availability will commence in September.Expected to launch this year, he said .melbourne will give Victorian businesses and Internet users their first opportunity to register geographic domain names as part of this evolution of the web.A .melbourne web address will be an innovative way for businesses and individuals to clearly display an online affiliation to Melbourne. It will be the easiest way to identify products and organisations serving the Melbourne and Victorian communities online.”The geography of the Internet is on the precipice of a revolutionary change and .melbourne is leading the charge as one of the first cities in the world to claim their own corner of the web,” Mr Kinderis said.”The Victorian Government and the City of Melbourne have long recognised the value of a strong city brand and has accordingly supported this opportunity. Through .melbourne, they now have a unique digital asset to amplify the reach of brand Melbourne across the globe with every domain name registered under it.”Mr Kinderis said .melbourne will become a quintessential part of the city’s business brand. He said Internet users around the world will turn to .melbourne as the city’s online source of truth, while savvy businesses will use the namespace to tap into the booming ecommerce potential of the city.”We expect to see innovative businesses snap up premium category names like plumber.melbourne, pizza.melbourne or bars.melbourne in a move to gain unparalleled online marketing supremacy.”Mr Kinderis also noted that .melbourne will appeal to individuals too and expected many people and families to register their names under .melbourne.The two-year-long process to apply for .melbourne was initiated by the Victorian Government with the City of Melbourne, through ARI Registry Services.Today’s milestone saw the Victorian Government enter into a Registry Agreement with ICANN to formally obtain the rights to .melbourne. It will be joined by the likes of London, Tokyo, New York and other high profile world cities and regions securing their own piece of online real estate.Nearly 40 other Australian applicants such as .sydney, .anz, .tab and .iinet are also anticipated to launch soon.