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Next new gTLD round could start sooner than expected

Kevin Murphy, August 11, 2016, 14:14:40 (UTC), Domain Policy

The ICANN board of directors is wondering whether the next new gTLD application round should kick off sooner than expected.

Chair Steve Crocker reached out to the Generic Names Supporting Organization this week to ask whether the next round could start before all GNSO policy work has been completed.

Or, he asked, are there any “critical issues” that need to be resolved before ICANN starts accepting more applications.

Akram Atallah, head of ICANN’s Global Domains Division, said in May that 2020 is the earliest the next round could feasibly begin, but Crocker’s letter this week (pdf) suggests that that date could be brought forward.

Crocker asked “whether a future application process could proceed while policy work continues”.

There are a number of reviews that ICANN has committed to carry about before the next round starts.

There’s a consumer choice, competition and trust survey to be completed, for example, and a review of trademark protection mechanisms.

Atallah said in may that these would likely be complete by the end of 2017.

But the GNSO is also conducting policy work designed to highlight flaws and inefficiencies in the current 2012 and recommend changes and improvements.

It’s this so-called GNSO Policy Development Process (PDP) Working Group on New gTLD Subsequent Procedures (or NewgTLD-WG) that Crocker is interested in. He wrote:

assuming all other review activities are completed, it would be helpful to understand whether the GNSO believes that the entirety of the current Subsequent Procedures PDP must be completed prior to advancing a new application process under the current policy recommendations. The Board is cognizant that it may be difficult to provide a firm answer at this stage of the process as the reviews are still underway and the PDP is in its initial stages of work, but if any consideration has been given in relation to whether a future application process could proceed while policy work continues and be iteratively applied to the process for allocating new gTLDs, or that a set of critical issues could be identified to be addressed prior to a new application process, the Board would welcome that input.

The current plan for the NewgTLD-WG is to wrap up two years from now, in the third quarter of 2018 (though this may be optimistic).

Members of the group seem to think that we’re looking at a post-2020 next round with 10,000 to 15,000 applications.

It’s difficult to imagine a second round (or fourth, if you’re a pedant) beginning a whole lot earlier than 2020, given the snail’s pace ICANN and its community moves at.

The WG was chartered over half a year ago and the conversations going on are still at a depressingly high level.

Perhaps Crocker’s letter is an early indication that board will not be the significant drag factor on the process.

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Comments (7)

  1. Dot Advice says:

    Hi Kevin, As a volunteer participant on the Sub Proced WG, 2020 is totally optimist. ICANN clearly doesn’t appreciate the huge amount work that is needed / is expected to done by these 40 odd volunteers. Now if we were all paid ….. For a start the whole Applicant Guidebook needs to be redrafted just to get to a current baseline situation with the huge number of changes made, some with legal implications , some regulatory, some requiring a PDP , some operational , some practical etc . 2025 est more like and then they wont be required anyway ! As for scaling it up to each of the individual 15000 applications . LOL.

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      You don’t have to do any work if you don’t want to. There’s an Applicant Guidebook in place already.

      If you decide to rewrite it from scratch, if you try to design a perfect, idiot-proof system than can account for all eventualities, if you decide to relitigate every argument all over again, you could take eight years or more, sure.

      If you just decide to fix a few obvious flaws and tighten a few screws here and there you could have it wrapped up in a couple of years, no sweat.

      • Rubens Kuhl says:

        The larger problem is that a lot of policy decisions were done by staff and sanctioned by the Board during the implementation phase. If it was only about verifying whether the current standing policy needs tuning, that would be much easier and faster.

        I’m not a fan of AGB but not a fan of rewriting it either; most of AGB is actually justification for ICANN decisions, so AGB could be easily shrunk to a minimal set of rules and mention the previous AGB for reasonings.

  2. Eric Lyon says:

    It’s hard for me to imagine such a large new wave of gTLD’s coming so soon for the simple fact that the market is already over saturated. Another wave that soon with as many applications they claim could potentially be the crippling blow to the resellers market.

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      I think the 15,000 number comes from anticipating a pent-up demand post-2020, particularly from brands.

    • Dot Advice says:

      Eric, Kevin is right. The WG is estimating these 15000 would be from .brand ( ie .twitter. facebook – that didn’t apply in Round 1) and as such would be a .closed model operated/ DUMs allocated within their global organisations and not sold to the general public via registrars. I doubt if there any good open generics left that would be investable in a Round 2 . Perhaps .advice or a personalised .lyon – but unfortunately there a city in France also that might want this .Here we go again !!

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