ICANN has revealed the unusual process new top-level domain applicants will have to use to compete for premium gTLD evaluation batch slots.
Senior vice president Kurt Pritz described a “Target Time Variance” system at a meeting with the GNSO Council at ICANN’s public meeting in Costa Rica this morning.
It’s a fairground skill game, essentially, but without the carnies.
Here’s how it will work.
At some point after the application window has closed, new gTLD applicants will be asked to pick a “target time” – a date and time in the near future.
They will then have to visit the ICANN TLD Application System and click a “Submit” button as close to that target time as possible.
The closer the applicant is to its chosen target time — presumably measured by ICANN’s server time — the higher priority in the batching process its application.
After all the times are collected, batches will be created by selecting the fastest applicant from each of the five ICANN geographic regions, then the second-fastest, and so on in a round-robin fashion.
Applicants will also be able to opt-out if time to market is not a major concern.
What ICANN seems to have created could be compared to a domain name drop or a landrush period, in which the company with the best technology stands the best chance of securing the asset.
Pritz said applicants will get a chance to test the system and calibrate their response times.
Network latency at the time the applicant hits submit may prove to be a critical factor – applicants are already today thinking aloud about renting servers as few hops from ICANN’s servers as possible.
“It’s clearly first-come first served,” GNSO Council chair Stephane Van Gelder said during the session this morning.
Council member Wendy Seltzer asked, given all the unpredictable network factors that could impact an applicant’s response time, how Time Target Variance is any different to random selection.
ICANN has of course rejected random selection – everybody’s preferred option – because companies opposed to new gTLDs would immediately sue ICANN to block the program for violations of Californian gambling laws.
“Random selection is just not available,” Pritz said. “Significant legal analysis was done over a long period of time.”
But there’s no beating the lawyers, apparently. Now attendees here in Costa Rica are wondering whether this skill game may potentially violate American disability/access laws, which doesn’t seem to be something ICANN has considered.
The Time Target Variance system has not yet been approved by the ICANN board of directors. That could happen at its meeting this Friday.