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Most new gTLDs could be closed shops

Kevin Murphy, June 21, 2012, 16:12:11 (UTC), Domain Registries

ICANN’s new generic top-level domain program could create almost 900 closed, single-user namespaces, according to DI PRO’s preliminary analysis.

Surveying all 1,930 new gTLD applications, we’ve found that 912 – about 47% – can be classified as “single registrant” bids, in which the registry would tightly control the second level.

Single-registrant gTLDs are exempt from the Registry Code of Conduct, which obliges registries to offer their strings equally to the full ICANN-accredited registrar channel.

The applications include those for dot-brand strings that match famous trademarks, as well as attempts by applicants such as Amazon and Google to secure generic terms for their own use.

Our definition of “single registrant” includes cases where the applicant has indicated a willingness to lightly share second-level domains with its close affiliates and partners.

It also includes applications such as those for .gov-style zones in non-US jurisdictions, where domains would be available to multiple agencies under the same government umbrella.

But it does not include gTLD applications that would merely require registrants to provide credentials, be a member, or agree to certain restrictions in order to register a domain.

Since there’s been a lot of discussion this last week about whether the single-registrant model adds value to the internet, I thought I’d try to measure the likely scale of the “problem” when it comes to eventual delegation into the DNS root zone.

How many closed registries could we see?

According to the DI PRO database, of the 912 single-registrant applications, 132 are in contention sets. There are 101 contention sets with at least one such applicant.

Some are up against regular multiple-registrant applications (both open and restricted gTLDs), whilst others are only fighting it out with other single-registrant applicants.

Let’s look at a couple of hypothetical scenarios.

Scenario One – Single-Registrant Applicants Win Everything

First, let’s assume that each and every applicant passes their evaluations, does not drop out, and there are no successful objections.

Then let’s imagine that every contention set containing at least one single-registrant bidder is won by one of those single-registrant bidders.

According to my calculations, that would eliminate 31 single-registrant applications and 226 multiple-registrant applications from the pool.

Another 264 multiple-registrant gTLD applications would be eliminated in normal contention.

That would leave us with 881 single-registrant gTLDs and 528 regular gTLDs in the root.

Scenario Two – Single-Registrant Applicants Lose Everything

Again, let’s assume that everybody passes their evaluations and there are no objections or withdrawals.

But this time let’s imagine that every single-registrant applicant in a contention set with at least one multiple-registrant bidder loses. This is the opposite of our first scenario.

According to my calculations, that would eliminate 117 single-registrant applications and 140 multiple-registrant applications.

Again, normal contention would take care of another 264 multiple-registrant applications.

That would leave us with 795 single-registrant gTLDs in the root and 614 others.

In both of these scenarios, at either extreme of the possible contention outcomes, single-registrant gTLDs are in the comfortable majority of delegated gTLDs.

Of course, there’s no telling how many applications of all types will choose to withdraw, fail their evaluations, or be objected out of the game, so the numbers could change considerably.

As another disclaimer: this is all based on our preliminary analysis of the applications, subject to a margin of error and possible changes in future as we refine our categorization algorithms.

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