ICANN has received a six-month extension to its crucial IANA contract, apparently in order to give the US government more time to take public comments and make amendments.
The contract may have been extended some weeks ago, but I believe the first public acknowledgment from ICANN came in a presentation before the ccNSO at its meeting in Singapore last week.
The IANA contract is what gives ICANN the power to make changes to the DNS root – including adding new top-level domains to the internet.
It is granted by the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
The contract is now set to expire March 31, 2012, towards the end of the newly approved first-round new gTLDs application window, which is expected to be open from January 12 until April 12.
It would be helpful, from an applicant confidence perspective, if the contract is renewed on a longer-term basis before January 12, when money will start changing hands.
The NTIA currently has a Further Notice Of Inquiry (pdf) open, soliciting public comments on what terms should and should not be included in the contract.