Archive for the ‘ICANN’ Category

An ITU cut and paste job for new TLDs could cost $150k

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

By Chris Wright

It was with great interest that I read a recent announcement about a plan by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to publish template answers on a wiki for the 22 questions relating to registry technical operations contained within ICANN’s new Top-Level Domain Applicant Guidebook.

As someone who has spent the best part of six years following the development of the program (witnessing first-hand each evolution of the Applicant Guidebook) my first thought was one of bemusement – How can a generic solution taken “off the shelf” accurately demonstrate whether an applicant is capable of understanding the technical requirements for setting up and operating a new Top-Level Domain?

Quite frankly, it can’t.

The application process for new Top-Level Domains (TLD) has been carefully designed by ICANN to thoroughly examine whether an applicant has performed the required research to adequately understand what it means to own and operate a vital piece of Internet infrastructure. Operating a TLD is a huge responsibility that should not be taken lightly. The application process has been created in its current format to determine this.

For the applicant, the risk of landing in Extended Evaluation, ICANN’s special audit system for applications that require further attention, is far too great to be toying with a one size fits all approach. In an attempt to save money, applicants will instead be at risk of losing at least $150,000 should their application fail the evaluation criteria set by ICANN.

While consultants working closely with the ITU are correct in stating that applicants do not have to be currently operating Domain Name Registry Systems, they still must identify the technical solution that supports the specific Registry requirements of the application in question. The financial and organisational descriptions must do the same.

The solution proposed by the ITU becomes even more unrealistic when you consider the following:

 • Registry technical operations must identify the intended registry system specifications such as: domain name lifecycle, servers, software, infrastructure, data centres, bandwidth providers, policies & procedures etc. Those who know will agree that this is impossible to do generically.

• Any Registry Services provider worth a pinch of salt is offering the ‘technical operations’ component of the application free of charge with their back-end registry services solution. One has to question whether the approach suggested by the ITU is one that delivers a significant increase in risk without actually delivering any tangible cost reduction?

• This is not a turnkey solution. Applicants will still be required to provide answers to non technical and financial sections, answers which need to be consistent with the information provided in the technical sections of the application, so those who consider the ITU’s approach will struggle to establish consistency throughout all sections of the application.

• Without having properly researched, designed and finally settled on a technical solution, whether that be to outsource to industry experts, or build in-house, Applicants will not have the ability to identify information for other areas of the application such as Registry set up and operational costs that will be critical to the successful development of sound and accurate financials. Further, how will applicants be able to demonstrate to ICANN that the technical specifications provided can be delivered on?

From my perspective, taking answers from another entity (whose content has no relation to any registry system (real or proposed)) clearly demonstrates two things: 1) You are proficient with the cut and paste function of your keyboard and; 2) You clearly lack the understanding necessary to manage a critical piece of Internet infrastructure such as a new Top-Level Domain.

As any high school student can tell you, cutting and pasting answers from a wiki is prone to failure. Although the ITU claim that only ‘approved contributors’ will be able to edit the information, it is unclear how someone would be granted ‘approved contributor’ status. With the highly competitive nature of the TLD process, Applicants should be aware that the accuracy of the information contained within the template has the potential to be highly dubious and potentially even prone to subtle sabotage. I have no doubt that ICANN’s evaluators will be on the lookout for these responses, just like any good teacher would do.

The message to prospective applicants here is simple: If you show disrespect to the evaluators and don’t give the technical criteria of your application the attention it truly deserves, then why should they take your application seriously.

I am left with two equally horrifying questions: 1). Is this simply an attempt by the ITU to devalue and undermine the entire new TLD application process (and therefore ICANN)? 2). Does anyone at the ITU truly understand the goals of the application process and what it is intended to do?

Were the ITU’s ambitions truly altruistic, they would spend their efforts providing capability advice and skills to the community. This approach would be useful and would not water down the quality of submissions to ICANN, as this solution almost certainly will.

Finally, this blog does not set out to be self-serving. Yes, there is a level of confidence that comes with choosing a back-end registry provider that is established and experienced. However, ICANN has ensured that anyone who can fulfil the technical requirements will be awarded a TLD Registry. So, the point I am making is that the process of fulfilling the technical requirements of a new TLD Registry involves more than a simple cut and paste. It requires communicating a level of understanding that a new TLD is a piece of mission critical infrastructure and that there are enormous responsibilities that come with this.

The game plan for new Top-Level Domains

Friday, July 1st, 2011

By Tony Kirsch

I was in Singapore last week to witness the ICANN Board officially approve the biggest change to the Internet in its history.

In an historic ‘special meeting’ held on Monday 20 June, the ICANN Board voted overwhelmingly to approve the new Top-Level Domain (TLD) program and open applications in January 2012. Yes, that’s right a touch over six months away.

With the program now officially approved and a clear timeline set for launch, there is a new sense of urgency to finalise your new TLD strategy and prepare yourself for this revolutionary shift. The pace of the game might have been a little slow up until now, but I have no doubt that there will be a mad rush to the finish line with six months until the application window opens.

After years of waiting in the locker room, it’s now game on!

The game plan

There is literally a marketplace of hundreds of new TLD applicants now scrambling to finalise their strategies. We know this because we are working with the world’s leading organisations, entrepreneurs and governments to help them implement their new TLDs.

It’s important that potential applicants understand now is the time to move. There is easily six months’ worth of work to complete to get a new TLD application ready for the 12 January 2012 opening window.

You do not want to leave this to the last minute.

Your game plan for maximising this unique opportunity needs to take account of the limited time available in the pre and post application timeline. The time to act is now.

The Timeline

Below is a breakdown of the ICANN launch timeline:

• 20 June 2011: ICANN’s global communications period begins
• 12 January 2012: Application window opens
• 12 April 2012: Application window closes

The New TLD marketplace

I can’t stress how important it is for potential applicants to look to the future. Once new TLDs are ready to go live, applicants will face fierce competition with the marketplace for Top-Level Domains set to increase dramatically. Given this, a strong business, sales and marketing plan will be a critical element of any new TLD’s success.

Similarly for .brand TLDs, your expenditure should be coupled with some initiatives to really reap the rewards of your innovative thinking, not just leave it on the shelf in some defensive manner.

While the industry has been focused on the approval of the program, we at AusRegistry International have been looking to the future. We want to ensure that our clients are able to create services that are successful not only in a technological sense, but in a highly competitive environment too. This is why we have formed strategic alliances with leading service providers from their respective fields, including the world’s leading marketing authority, Jeffrey Hayzlett, and leading domain name industry advisory firm, Crowell & Moring. The expert knowledge from these alliances will perfectly complement our world class domain name registry service offering and we’re proud to be working with these organisations at such a critical time in our industry.

The April 2012 deadline is now looming and AusRegistry International is perfectly placed to handle the entire new Top-Level Domain application process.

Please feel free to contact me for a confidential discussion about your new TLD strategy.

New TLD registry service providers are not created equal

Monday, June 27th, 2011

Adrian Kinderis, CEO of AusRegistry International, explains why choosing a registry services partner is the most important decision applicants will make.

By Adrian Kinderis

The ICANN Singapore meeting last week was all about certainty. The official approval of the new Top-Level Domain program and the delivery of an application timeline by the ICANN Board has provided the certainty we have all been eagerly waiting for.

What I can also be certain about is that potential applicants are now desperately trying to finalise their new Top-Level Domain strategies. To those applicants, I have one very important message:

Choosing a domain name registry services partner for your new Top-Level Domain is the most important decision you will make from here on in.

As such, I think it is also important for potential applicants to understand that not all registry services providers are created equal. There are several key criteria for differentiation that can help potential applicants decipher all the spin and make an informed decision.

Below is my summary of the criteria I believe are critical for your choice in registry services partner.

1) Experience – Your chosen partner must have long-term experience in developing, growing and operating a current, high volume namespace. In this game, experience counts for everything.

2) Financial Security – Financial security ensures long term viability of your provider. This means that your registry services partner will be around for as long as your TLD needs them to be.

3) Flexibility – Your solution must be built for the specific requirements of your new TLD. Flexibility from your registry services partner will ensure you aren’t restricted by technical capability.

4) Focus – Are new TLDs a primary focus of the business? They should be…

5) Diverse Expertise – Navigating the TLD minefield is no easy task. To ensure success, you’ll need a combination of dedicated industry consultants, knowledgeable technical resources and sales & marketing experts to meet ICANN’s stringent requirements. Great registry services require an equal balance of brain power and technology.

6) Commitment – Ask prospective partners how much of their own time has been invested understanding the intricate details of the Applicant Guidebook and ICANN’s processes. Have they been an advocate and influencer of the program since its inception? Are they committed to the success of this revolutionary program?

7) Price – Extremely low per domain pricing structures may seem like a good idea in theory, however  you must question the ability for that entity to manage a registry well and, importantly, support your ongoing business long-term. If your partner is hamstrung because they have over committed on pricing, you may experience some challenges long-term.

What you are looking for is a service provider that can positively cover off all these points at a consistently high level. What you want to avoid is a provider that may excel at one point to the detriment of another.

There is only six months until the 12 January 2012 application window opens and the time to act is now. I’ve provided you with all the information you need to make the right decisions about your new Top-Level Domain. There is just one more piece of information I forgot to include: info@ausregistry.com.

Drop my team a line one day to see how we stack up.

The Internet community says thank you to ICANN for new TLDs

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

By Krista Papac

After more than six years of consultation and negotiation regarding the New Top-Level Domain Program, the ICANN Board this week approved the program to the pleasure of many within the Internet community.

For this, we say thank you to ICANN on a job well done!

The New Top-Level Domain (TLD) Program has been controversial at times and has fuelled many passionate debates within the Internet community. However, it is important to remember that the implementation of new TLDs is written into ICANN’s founding mandate. It is also important to appreciate the level of research, planning, consultation, discussion and compromise that has gone into getting to this point.

The ICANN community needs to understand that a change as big as new TLDs requires some degree of ‘a leap of faith’. Nothing can ever be 100 per cent guaranteed and I can’t promise you that the new Top-Level Domain program is perfect. But what we can be comforted by is the fact that the years of consultation, discussion and compromise that has gone into this process means the leap is more a small step – a carefully calculated step.

What I can guarantee is that ICANN will continue to work extremely hard to listen to any concerns and take all appropriate feedback from now until the launch of the program, and after. This is based on the phenomenal amount of work ICANN has put into getting to this point.

A learning of this entire process has been the fundamental necessity of ‘not pleasing all of the people, all of the time’. The multi-stakeholder model, by definition, is just that. The only possible result with multiple stakeholders, who have a multitude of viewpoints and concerns, is ‘not pleasing all of the people, all of the time’. The focus must be on achieving a quality result with the understanding that you can never make everyone happy.

What cannot be denied is the extraordinary level of work the ICANN Community, Board, staff and the GAC has put into trying to achieve the best possible outcome. All these stakeholders have done a tremendous job and deserve due recognition.

Thank you ICANN

Say ‘Yes to new Top-Level Domains’ at ICANN Singapore

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

The time for new Top-Level Domains is now! Read the open letter to the ICANN Board and sign the petition calling for the approval of the program here: http://www.petitions24.com/newtlds Show your support and say #YesToNewTLDs

By Krista Papac

There is less than one week to go until the much anticipated ICANN Singapore meeting where the global Internet community expects the ICANN Board to approve the New gTLD Program and finalise plans for launch.

The world is on the precipice of the most compelling opportunity for innovation the Internet has seen since its creation.

However, the fate of new Top-Level Domains (TLDs) now rests with the 16 voting members which make up the ICANN Board.

On Monday 20 June at 11:00am Singapore local time, the ICANN Board will hold a special session to evaluate the current status of the New gTLD Program and consider the approval of the final Applicant Guidebook, which if passed, will signal the start of the Program.

The global Internet community collectively urges the voting ICANN Board members to say ‘Yes to New Top-Level Domains’ in Singapore.

As such, an open letter to the ICANN Board has been posted along with a petition calling for the approval of the New gTLD Program.

The letter and petition can be signed here:  http://www.petitions24.com/newtlds

We encourage you to read the open letter and sign the petition to show your support for new TLDs. The letter urges the ICANN Board to approve the New gTLD Program and simultaneously begin the global communications period at its 20 June 2011 meeting.

ICANN is on the cusp of an historic decision to fulfill its founding mandate to introduce choice and competition into the Internet naming system, and thereby make it truly accessible to all Internet users, and for those to come.

ICANN has no principled course of action except to vote to approve the New gTLD Program; to require the immediate start of the communications period to create greater awareness about the program; and to announce it will begin accepting applications for new TLDs later this year.

I’m confident the New gTLD Program will be approved in Singapore. As I have said before, the extraordinary level of consultation and negotiation that has gone into producing the current version of the Applicant Guidebook is evidence that the model works and that we will be kicking off the new TLD program later this year.

It’s now time for ICANN to say ‘Yes’ to new Top-Level Domains.

Please join the discussion and add your views using the following Twitter hashtag: #YesToNewTLDs  

Krista Papac is based in California at AusRegistry International’s US office. She provides advice on all domain name industry policy matters as AusRegistry International’s Chief Strategy Officer.

ICANN successfully tiptoes through political minefield with new TLD Applicant Guidebook

Friday, May 13th, 2011

By Krista Papac

ICANN released its sixth version of the draft Applicant Guidebook for the new Top-Level Domain (TLD) program in April following three years of debate surrounding the rules and procedures that will outline how potential applicants will apply to own their own piece of Internet real estate.

 

Overall, the response has been positive.

 

ICANN has achieved what many in the Internet community doubted was possible – achieving a delicate balance amongst a diverse set of stakeholders while still progressing towards the rollout of the new Top-Level Domain program according to its proposed timeline released in March. This is no mean feat – ICANN has literally tiptoed through a political minefield in developing a set of rules and policies which address everyone’s concerns in a secure, pragmatic, and mostly workable fashion. 

 

By now you would have had a chance to skim over the surface of the new Applicant Guidebook and supplementary documentation. However, buried deep within the 422 pages of text and amongst the myriad of redlines, there are some important decisions that affect those tied to the new TLD program.

 

Below I outline my opinion and commentary on the major changes made and what they mean for those involved in the new TLD program.

 

What do these important changes actually mean?

 

ICANN have clearly listened to the various stakeholders, are diligently checking off open items and have thoughtfully addressed remaining issues. As such, the recent concerns of the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) feature heavily.

 

ICANN has addressed the majority of the GAC concerns being discussed over the past few months. The top GAC issues addressed include:

 

·         String Evaluation – GAC Early Warning

·         Government Objections Process and GAC Fees

·         Root Zone Scaling

·         Rights Protection – Trademark Clearinghouse

·         Rights Protection – Uniform Rapid Suspension

·         Consumer Protections

·         Community based string issues

·         Market and economic impact requests

·         Post Delegation Disputes

·         Further Requirements for Geographic Names

·         Law Enforcement Recommendations

 

This is the result of a lot of hard work by ICANN, the GAC and the Community and goes a long way to helping ICANN achieve its June deadline for approving the Applicant Guidebook.

 

While the GAC got a lot of love, there is a little something for just about everyone in version six. For example:

 

·         At Large Advisory Committee – The latest draft says ICANN will allocate funds to the ALAC to pay for some Objection Fees

·         Intellectual Property Rights Holders – Rights Holders now get both a Sunrise & Trademark Claims Service and a “loser pays” mechanism has been included in the Uniform Rapid Suspension process

·         Registries – Existing gTLD Registries suggested edits to the Registry Agreement, most of which are included in version 6

·         Non-Commercial Stakeholder Group – The Independent Objector must now have at least one public comment in order to lodge an Objection

 

What are the outstanding issues?

 

While the end, or the beginning, appears to be in sight – there are still a few remaining items. In my eyes, these items can be addressed in time for ICANN to meet its 30 May, 2011 Final Guidebook and 20 June, 2011 Board Consideration deadlines.

 

·         Rights Protection Mechanisms

o   ICANN and the GAC still disagree on:

§  the ‘standard of proof,’

§  the ‘bad faith’ requirement,

§  including trademarks beyond ‘exact match’,

§  and the ‘use requirement’ during Sunrise and for the URS and PDDRP

·         Registry/Registrar Separation

o   The GAC are still not satisfied with ICANN’s decision on vertical integration nor with their documented rationale

·         Support for Needy Applicants

o   ICANN is awaiting guidance from the Joint Applicant Support (JAS) Working Group who submitted their report directly to the Board over this past weekend. It’s not clear why the GNSO was circumvented from the process, or how that will be addressed by the Board. While the ICANN Community all seem to agree there needs to be a mechanism for providing support to needy applicants, a workable solution needs to be found. I’ve not read the full report yet, but am hopeful.

·         And finally – the all important Communications Timeline

o   ICANN have committed to a four-month global communications plan, however we are all anxiously waiting to hear when that will begin.

 

What it all boils down to

 

The mere fact that (from my own observations) this version of the Applicant Guidebook has had virtually no public outcry in the blogs like previous versions have is surely an indicator of progress. This, combined with the fact that ICANN has largely addressed the outstanding issues and has committed to a timeline for approving the Applicant Guidebook in June, provides more evidence that new TLDs are coming and they are coming fast!

 

Based on the positive outcomes seen in version six, I have confidence that ICANN can resolve the remaining outstanding issues and finalize the Applicant Guidebook for public comment on 30 May.

 

The overall message to take away is: The extraordinary level of consultation and negotiation that has gone into producing the current version of the Applicant Guidebook is evidence that the model works, that ICANN is successfully making its way towards approving the Applicant Guidebook in June, and that we will be kicking off the new TLD program later this year.

 

At some point in time the ICANN community needs to understand that we have to take a leap of faith. That is how innovation happens. In doing so we can be comforted that with the years of consultation, discussion and compromise that has gone into this process, the leap is more a small step – a carefully calculated step.

 

Who is wagging who? Same dog, new tale.

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

By Adrian Kinderis

Today, my company AusRegistry International signed an open letter to the United States House Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet as a show of support for ICANN and its new Top-Level Domain program. I’m disappointed by the nature of the oversight hearing the Subcommittee has called and I believe it will only be a distraction.

Let’s not kid ourselves; the reason for this hearing is to beat up ICANN over the new TLD program. I think this is unfair and unjustified.

ICANN’s new TLD program has undergone extraordinarily thorough and inclusive discussions going back to ICANN’s incarnation in 1998, and in earnest since 2005. It is without question that rights holders be afforded reasonable protections. However, it must be fairly pointed out that since initiation of this discussion nearly six years ago, ICANN staff and participants (including rights holders, trademark representatives, and delegates of the US government), at significant expense, have accommodated the needs and demands of the IP community to prevent intellectual property theft or needless cost to IP owners.

This is why I’m at a loss for why this hearing has been called at such a late stage in the process, when we are so close to approving the program.

It frightens me that ICANN must jump when the US government calls a hearing on new TLDs. There is something fundamentally wrong with this situation; the global organisation dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable should not feel such an imbalanced sense of accountability to one government – the US government.

ICANN’s acclaimed multi-stakeholder model means it’s accountable to numerous stakeholders, which include Internet users, Regional Internet Registries, Country Code Registries, several committees and councils, and the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) to name a few.  It’s important to remember that the US government forms just one part of the GAC, which is one stakeholder in the vast ecosystem that comprises ICANN.

It makes me think, if any other Government was to call a meeting would the ICANN Community feel as intimidated to participate. What gives them such sway and power and how does the rest of the GAC membership feel about this?

Furthermore, in the Affirmation of Commitments (AoC), ICANN committed to maintain and improve robust mechanisms for public input, accountability and transparency so as to ensure that the outcomes of its decision-making reflect the public interest and are accountable to all stakeholders. The AOC and the completion of the original agreement signalled a globalisation of the Internet and its governance. Yet, we still find ourselves at the mercy of the US government as demonstrated by  this House Subcommittee oversight hearing.

What is more intriguing is why the US Government is seemingly opposed to the implementation of the new TLD program and its associated benefits. It’s contradictory for the US Government to be speaking about the importance of stimulating the economy and job creation on one hand, and then to be also involved in stifling the new TLD program, which has the potential to drive innovation, create jobs, and boost the digital economy.

At ICANN’s recent meeting in San Francisco, former US President Bill Clinton said the technology sector should play a pivotal role in driving economic recovery. He recognised the importance of online innovation for a strong and sustainable economic climate and said information technology was a key driver of the American economy during his eight years in office. He said IT jobs represented 30 percent of the United States’ job growth and 35 percent of its income growth. It is my belief that new Top-Level Domain names are the most compelling opportunity for innovation the Internet has seen since its creation.

ICANN is in the final stages of executing a well developed plan that will see new TLDs and all the benefits associated with them approved later this year. To ICANN’s credit, they have worn the body blows from various sectors of the Community throughout this long, careful and calculated process. They have battled on working towards a solution that provides for the benefit of ALL stakeholders – an incredibly hard task. I understand that the US Government may have questions – however, ultimately they are one voice and not the only voice providing input into the process. The ICANN Community, including the GAC need to remember that.

By Adrian Kinderis, CEO, AusRegistry International

Big business has been using the new TLD concept for years

Friday, February 18th, 2011

The recent practice of major corporations abandoning the use of forward slashes in domain names and placing the product or service in front of their corporate domain name reinforces the business case for why we need new Top-Level Domains.

By Michael Twist

By now we’ve all had a chance to digest the concept around the new TLD program and in some cases even come up with our own amazing ideas for the next .com or a niche TLD that will make us millionaires overnight!

Well maybe some of us have…

Others are taking a far more practical approach to the exciting new changes to the Internet and how it will be adopted and used, in particular within the corporate arena. While there is still much conjecture around rights protection and trademark issues, the biggest unknown I think is how and when the new .brand TLDs will be used.

Speaking with a number of corporate clients recently it has become painfully clear that not everyone is as excited about the prospect of .brand TLDs hitting the online marketplace as I am. Whilst there is a large number of forward thinking organisations out there that can see the future ahead, the reality is that there are still a number of companies who see the whole program as a waste of time and money and will only be applying purely as a brand protection mechanism or even worse, not at all!

It’s these clients that ask me, how can a .brand do anything but hinder our marketing and strategic plans?

Well the answer to this question came to me as I was reading an industry publication over my afternoon coffee and biscuit. I saw an advertisement for a new shoe from global sporting powerhouse, Nike.
Now the product itself, although quite ingenious wasn’t what caught my eye. What caught my eye was the web address – nikeid.nike.com

This got me thinking…

1.    Why did Nike choose this address as opposed to the commonly used www.nike.com/nikeid ?
2.    Why didn’t they choose www.nikeid.com ?
3.    Is this proving a more effective way to deliver their message?
4.    Is anyone else doing this?

The first three questions are there for Nike to answer but I would guess they chose the structure to assist in message recall and easier direct type into the web browser, which all lead to a simpler and more effective way for their customers to interact with them.

I also looked at nikeid.com and it resolved to the nikeid.nike.com page – interesting.

The third question I can answer for you very simply -“yes” other companies are doing this. Taking just five minutes on Google I found four of the biggest brands in their respective industries doing exactly the same thing:

•    software.intel.com
•    podcast.bmw.com
•    ebookstore.sony.com
•    store.apple.com

As you can see the trend is to bring the product or service ahead of the TLD in order to enhance customer recall which leaves the .com as a superfluous suffix that is only utilized because current protocols and domain name infrastructure dictates that the address would not work without it.

How much easier would it be for customers to remember the promotions if it was simply;

•    software.intel
•    podcast.bmw
•    ebookstore.sony
•    store.apple

If you’re having trouble noticing the difference, try saying it to yourself like you were listening to a television commercial or a radio advertisement!!

So what does this really mean?

In my humble opinion the take up time of .brand and its transition to main stream usage may not take as long as some may think. With these big brands already utilizing the product.brand way of addressing it’s clear that the exercise of merely dropping the .com at the end is the only obstacle that needs to be overcome for the .brand way of thinking to revolutionise how we navigate the Internet.

That… and a few short sighted people looking beyond a digital marketing strategy that lasts a year or two!

Michael Twist

Top-Level Domain name specialist with AusRegistry International

New TLDs are coming, and they are coming fast

Friday, February 11th, 2011

By Krista Papac

Despite what you may have read about possible delays to the rollout of the new Top-Level Domain (TLD) program, all the available evidence points to ICANN approving the applicant guidebook shortly after its San Francisco conference in March.

My feelings about the timing of the new TLD program were further buoyed by Kurt Pritz, ICANN’s Senior Vice President of Stakeholder Relations, who gave a presentation at the .nxt conference I attended in San Francisco this week. Mr Pritz said the applicant guidebook is currently in a “proposed final” version and should be approved after ICANN’s San Francisco conference in March.

However, there are still some significant hurdles to overcome.

A recent comment by ICANN Board Chair, Peter Dengate-Thrush, indicated ICANN may not be able to approve the applicant guidebook in March, and reports about the GAC’s veto power-play, have created more uncertainty in the final timelines associated with the approval of the applicant guidebook.

The GAC has made a number of recommendations to ICANN about the implementation of the new TLD program and there are currently12 remaining points of contention to be discussed later this month at a special inter-sessional meeting of the GAC and the ICANN Board. In addition, the US Government wants the GAC to have a level of control over what TLDs can be applied for. If the US Government had its way, all new TLD applications would require GAC approval.

However, under its constitutional bylaws, ICANN must hear and consider GAC advice but it does not have to accept the GAC’s recommendations, no matter how strongly they are worded.

My interpretation is that ICANN are finally doing what they need to do, both politically and operationally, to properly execute the new TLD program. By invoking the bylaws, ICANN is demonstrating its determination to see the new TLD program implemented without any further delays, while also appreciating the importance of solid consultation with the GAC and ICANN community.

The January board resolutions show ICANN will be working closely with the GAC in an attempt to quickly resolve any outstanding disagreements. Following the inter-sessional meeting, ICANN will hold a consultation meeting with the GAC on 17 March and I expect them to announce a final decision shortly after.

This means ICANN’s San Francisco conference (13 – 18 March) is looming as a very important milestone on the path towards the realisation of the new TLD program. Although the applicant guidebook will most likely not be signed off in San Francisco, it should be the last time ICANN meets without it being finalised.

In all of my experience within the domain industry, I strongly believe we will see the guidebook signed off very soon. In fact, my response when asked over the past two years about when I thought new TLDs would be approved has always been, “I don’t know”, or “your guess is as good as mine”.

Now, I’m more inclined to say “soon, very soon” with a lot of confidence and certainty. In fact, I’m going to make my first ever TLD prediction – I believe the new TLD application window will open in August 2011. So don’t be discouraged. Be excited. New TLDs are coming and they are coming fast!

Krista Papac is based in California at AusRegistry International’s US office. She provides advice on all domain name industry policy matters as AusRegistry International’s Chief Strategy Officer.

I support ICANN, I support new gTLDs

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

By Tony Kirsch

After a very long flight from Australia the ARI team have descended on Cartagena, Colombia, for the 39th ICANN meeting.

What a beautiful city – great food, lovely people and a beachside venue with fun music and good times ahead.

This week is a critical time for the ICANN community and in particular the ICANN Board, as they approach a decision on whether to finalise the new gTLD program and approve the Proposed Final Applicant Guidebook subject to changes and recent community feedback.

I, for one, am really pleased about the industry discussions taking place and am encouraged that the lingering concerns are of a relatively minor nature. That’s not to say that changes to the guidebook aren’t required. In fact, there are a number of small adjustments that are needed but that’s just the point; they’re small and can be handled in the final version of the applicant guidebook without need for further public comment or delay.

So despite all of the continued efforts of doomsayers suggesting that the world will end when new gTLDs are released, there is an unquestionable enthusiasm from the community here in Cartagena that new gTLDs need to get underway ASAP. Although it has been humorous to watch folks try to find a new angle at the last hour and add yet another delay.

In my opinion the world is ready for new gTLDs and the process will run relatively smoothly – we’ll wonder why it took us so long in the first place!

This week gives the Board a great opportunity to push forward with the program and to make the necessary considerations to the requests of the GAC.

Stay tuned for live updates from the Board meeting on Friday via AusRegistry International on twitter.