ICANN has sketched out a tentative timetable for the evaluation of its new generic top-level domain applications that would see the first successful gTLDs appear over a year from now.
But the plan has little meat on its bones, and ICANN has admitted that it still doesn’t know exactly how the evaluation process is going to pan out.
The winners and losers from Initial Evaluation, ICANN said, could be announced June or July 2013.
This would mean that the first new gTLDs would start going live on the internet “in late third quarter of 2013, six months later than originally expected”, ICANN said.
But which successful applications would start hitting the root first is still wide open to debate.
The idea that the applications would be processed in batches of 500 or thereabouts, is now pretty much dead. That’s been obvious since digital archery was killed off, but it’s now confirmed.
ICANN said it has a “tentative project plan” that “foresees the processing of applications in a single batch, and simultaneous release of results” about a year from now.
But with “batching” dead, we now have a “metering” problem.
Hypothetically, as many as 1,409 unique gTLD applications could emerge successfully from evaluation at the same time, in June or July next year.
That’s the theoretical ceiling; in reality the number will be substantially reduced by withdrawals, objections and contention.
But before any of them can go live the applicants need to negotiate and/or sign registry agreements with ICANN and undergo formal pre-delegation technical testing. That creates two bottlenecks at ICANN in its legal and IANA departments.
ICANN now wants to know how to “meter” successfully evaluated applications, to smooth out the roll-out so that no more than 1,000 new gTLDs are delegated in any given year.
An idea that emerged in Prague was to order applications according to how “clean” they were, as measured many clarifying questions the evaluators had to ask the applicants. But that idea has now been dismissed as “unworkable”, ICANN said.
ICANN’s board of directors had promised to make about three weeks after the Prague meeting – a deadline that passed over a week ago – but it’s now turning to the community for ideas.
Before August 19, it wants to know:
1. Should the metering or smoothing consider releasing evaluation results, and transitioning applications into the contract execution and pre-delegation testing phases, at different times?
a. How can applications be allocated to particular release times in a fair and equitable way?
b. Would this approach provide sufficient smoothing of the delegation rate?
c. Provide reasoning for selecting this approach.
2. Should the metering or smoothing be accomplished by downstream metering of application processing (i.e., in the contract execution, pre-delegation testing or delegation phases)?
a. How can applications be allocated to a particular timing in contract execution, pre-delegation testing, or delegation in a fair and equitable way?
b. Provide reasoning for selecting this approach.
3. Include a statement describing the level of importance that the order of evaluation and delegation has for your application.
My hunch based on conversations in Prague is that the majority answer to question 1 will be “No” and that the majority answer to question 2 will be “Yes”, but that’s just a hunch at this point.