New top-level domains may arrive a month earlier than previously projected, after ICANN revealed it is considering reducing the first-round application window to 60 days.
That’s one of a number of suggested changes to the new TLDs program that appear in documents published Monday (more on this later).
In the summary and analysis of public comments on November’s proposed final Applicant Guidebook, ICANN staff write (with my emphasis):
A set of commenters suggested that the application submission period should be 30 days. ICANN has not established the length of this period; however, it is expected that it the necessary steps leading up to and including the submission of an application will take some time to complete. ICANN’s intention is to ensure that the time period is sufficient for applicants to provide appropriate attention to these steps. The application period will be at least 60 days and no longer than 90 days.
A 60-day window would reduce the minimum estimated period between ICANN approving the guidebook and the first new TLDs going live from 15 months to 14 months.
ICANN currently expects to launch a four-month communication period after the Guidebook is approved, followed by the application window.
The most-straightforward TLDs could be approved in as little as eight months after applications close, and going through IANA to get into the root could take as little as 10 days.
If the Guidebook gets the nod in April, we could be looking at TLDs live by July 2012, with sunrise periods starting not too long thereafter, but that’s still the most optimistic outcome for applicants.