ARI Registry Services is attempting to spearhead an uprising against ICANN’s little-loved digital archery new gTLD application batching system.
The registry services provider wants ICANN to scrap not only digital archery – which is due to kick off on Friday – but the concept of batching in its entirety.
“Batching is a solution to a problem that I’m not sure exists any more,” said ARI CEO Adrian Kinderis.
“ICANN has a large number of single applicants going for a large number of domains, and that has to create some operational efficiencies,” he said.
Instead of batching, Kinderis said ICANN should lump all applications into a single “batch”, so they can all go through their Initial Evaluation phase at the same time.
If ICANN can promise to keep this single batch to 10-12 months of evaluation, rather than the five months currently envisaged by the Applicant Guidebook, he reckons most applicants would go for the idea.
Kinderis couldn’t name names until the companies in question have gone through their respective clearance processes, but said he expects strong support from his competitors.
“We’ve talked to some of the big registries and they’re waiting for us to put this out so they can come to the party and support it,” he said.
ARI sent a letter (pdf) outlining its ideas to ICANN’s board last Friday, and it plans to send another tomorrow morning, which it hopes other applicants will then express support for.
“If they extended initial evaluation to 12 months, I think that would have the support of the ICANN community,” Kinderis said. “No one wants batching.”
Digital archery is also not loved by ICANN’s intellectual property constituency, which thinks it puts dot-brands at a disadvantage.
Whether ICANN will go for the ARI proposal remains to be seen.
With the embarrassing TLD Application System outage – and delays – still a recent memory, there may be a desire to keep the program moving along according to plan.
However, if registries representing large numbers of applicants (ARI has 161 on its books, and has been one of the most vocal critics of delays) are asking for delays, ICANN will have to pay attention.
But by acknowledging operational efficiencies, ICANN would also have to acknowledge that its $185,000 application fee might have been a tad on the high side.
Rearranging the program into a single batch may also require the renegotiation of its deals with the independent third-party evaluators that will process the bulk of the program.
The Governmental Advisory Committee, which has used root zone scaling as a political tool in negotiations with ICANN previously, may also balk at a single batch.
But Kinderis said later stages of the program will have natural “organic gateways” – such as auctions and contract signing – that would slow down the delegation of new gTLDs.
“I think it suits the GAC,” he added. “It gives them more time to be a bit more deliberate about their [GAC Advice on New gTLDs] decisions.”
UPDATE: ARI has now sent its second letter, which states in part:
It is our view, and we believe the view of many applicants and the ICANN community generally, that batching and the chosen method of doing so will serve to increase the likelihood of confusion, frustration and uncertainty for Applicants. Applicants want a level playing field where they can all progress through the process at an equal rate. Batching is not something desired by Applicants.
We ask that ICANN staff delay the launch of the batching process, take the time until the Prague ICANN meeting to consider the options outlined in this letter and take the opportunity of the Prague meeting to discuss batching with the community.
Read it in PDF format here.