ICANN held a webinar today in which it detailed a whole lot of the current thinking about the evaluation phase of the new gTLD program, including some new deadlines and target dates.
Senior vice president and acting program head Kurt Pritz fought through a cold to give new gTLD applicants more information and clarification than they’d received since Prague in June.
These are some of the things we learned:
- Three applications have been withdrawn already. We don’t know which ones.
- There have been 49 requests to change applications. Again, we don’t know which ones yet. ICANN is in the process of finalizing a threshold check to allow or deny these changes, details of which it expects to publish soon.
- “Clarifying Questions” are the new buzzword. CQs — yes, they have an acronym — are additional questions the evaluators need to ask applicants before they can score parts of their application. The vast majority of applications are going to get at least one CQ. The two-week deadline to respond to these questions, as described in the Applicant Guidebook, will likely be ignored in many cases.
- About 90% of applications will get a CQ about their financial status. This mainly concerns their Continuing Operations Instrument, the super-complex and expensive back-up cash commitments each applicant had to secure. But applicants who got letters of credit don’t need to panic if their banks have recently had their ratings downgraded.
- Another 40% can expect to get questions about their technical plans. Some applicants may have relied too heavily on their back-end providers to describe their security plans, it seems.
- About half of all geographic gTLD applications have not yet supplied letters of support from the relevant government. This was already anticipated and is accounted for by Guidebook processes however, Pritz said.
- Don’t expect an answer to the metering question any time soon. Batching may be dead, but ICANN does not expect to figure out its replacement — a way to throttle new gTLDs’ go-live dates — until October. There’s an open comment period on this and plenty more jaw-wagging to come.
- Objections will come before Initial Evaluation results. This sucks if you’re a likely objector. The deadline for filing objections is January 12, 2013, but evaluation results are not expected until June 2013 at the earliest. This means the much cheaper option of waiting to see if an application is rejected before paying for an objection is no longer a viable strategy. But it’s good for applicants, which will get a little more visibility into their likelihood of success and their costs.
- Contention sets will probably be revealed in November. The String Similarity Panel, which decides which gTLDs are too similar to each other to co-exist, is not expected to give its results to ICANN until late October, four and a half months after the June 13 Reveal Day — so applicants won’t know the full size of their contention sets until probably a couple of weeks after that.
- The new gTLD public comment period will probably be extended. After several requests, ICANN is very probably going to give everyone more time to comment on the
1,9301,927 applications, beyond the August 12 scheduled closing date. An announcement is likely on Friday.