Kurt Pritz, ICANN VP for Services, announced some of the latest
developments in the ongoing studies related to the imminent
launching of application for new gTLDs.
Among other matters, still on the discussion board is the possibility
of allowing 1- or 2-character TLDs since other languages, such
as Chinese, Japanese and Korean can form meaningful words with
only 1-2 characters. Right now, there is a lot of criticism
coming from these countries when it comes to the 3-character
requirement of the new program.
Pritz explained that even after the long discussion, ICANN
did not release a version 3 of the applicant guidebook for new
TLDs because there is still nothing definite when it comes to
the most important details of the application process. However,
Pritz stressed that public participation and comments will largely
affect the final guidebook.
As of now, the most important stages in the application process
are: acceptance, evaluation, string contention resolution (if
necessary), dispute resolution (if necessary) and delegation
(once the TLD has been approved). An applicant will need to
spend $185,000 outright for an application to be validated.
Additional fees will be incurred when an applicant meets objections
and dispute resolutions.
Among the many things being polished right now is the issue
on community objection. When a TLD applicant applies for a sting
that is socially or politically relevant, for example (.eco),
there is a chance that organizations and communities will object
to raise their claim and right to the string. ICANN is still
seeking ways to defend applicants from the rise of community
objections. How an objection will be validated, how objections
can be prevented in the first place, and how to resolve objections
are very important issues for the prospective new TLD applicants.
Pritz said ICANN is expecting around 400-500 new TLD applicants.
He then noted that the final draft applicant guidebook will
be released in December 2009 to allow more time for deliberations
on what are the best things to do for a smooth application process.
Public participation will continue through the 36th ICANN Meeting
to be held in Seoul in October.
The shortest time that would be needed before a TLD is delegated
would be around 6-8 months after an application is lodged. Administrative
check would need at least 1 month. Evaluation and technical
check would need around 5 months. The process for pre-delegation
after the approval would need 2 months at the minimum. Therefore,
considering that the final applicant guidebook will be released
in December, the application round won't be open until early
or mid-2010. TLDs that won't meet objections or won't have to
go through dispute resolution processes may be launched for
public or commercial use within the last quarter of 2010 or
early 2011. For some prospective TLD applicants, the whole journey
towards the application process has been way too long already.
Serious talks about the new gTLD application process started
in June last year, but the timeline has been consistently adjusted
to take longer time. For now, the only thing that's certain
is ICANN is not turning back when it comes to expanding the
Internet with hundreds of new TLDs within the next 2 years.
Meanwhile, applicants who wish to apply for city and cultural
names as TLDs are set to converge Monday afternoon to come up
with plans and strategies to propose to ICANN in case the timetable
for the application period gets adjusted again.