Latest news of the domain name industry

Recent Posts

Here’s how new gTLD batching will work

Kevin Murphy, March 11, 2012, Domain Policy

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.

4 Comments Tagged: , , ,

Six hot topics for new gTLD applicants at ICANN 43

Kevin Murphy, March 11, 2012, Domain Policy

Hundreds of stakeholders are gathering in San Jose, Costa Rica today for the first official day of ICANN’s 43rd public meeting.

While the news that the US government has deferred the renewal of ICANN’s IANA contract for another six months has set the most tongues wagging so far, there’s a lot more going on.

In this in-depth DomainIncite PRO ICANN 43 preview, we take a look at:

  • Why many attendees think the shock IANA news is a personal slight against ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom.
  • How protecting the Olympic and Red Cross trademarks could lead to the new gTLD application window being extended.
  • Why the Governmental Advisory Committee is pushing for greater powers to reject new gTLD applications.
  • Which companies have applied for the potentially lucrative Trademark Clearinghouse contract (and which one is our favorite to win), and why unanswered questions have the IP community worried.
  • What criteria new gTLDs will be judged against after they launch.
  • Why critical talks between ICANN and domain name registrars could lead to the retail price of domain names doubling, and why that probably won’t happen any time soon.

DomainIncite PRO subscribers can read the full analysis here. Non-subscribers can find subscription information here.

Comment Tagged: , , , , ,

NTIA says ICANN “does not meet the requirements” for IANA renewal

Kevin Murphy, March 10, 2012, Domain Policy

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has dealt a stunning blow to ICANN in its bid to carry on running the internet’s critical IANA functions.

The NTIA said this hour that it has canceled the RFP for the new IANA contract “because we received no proposals that met the requirements requested by the global community”

NTIA thinks that ICANN’s bid was unsatisfactory, in other words.

The NTIA said:

Based on the input received from stakeholders around the world, NTIA added new requirements to the IANA functions’ statement of work, including the need for structural separation of policymaking from implementation, a robust companywide conflict of interest policy, provisions reflecting heightened respect for local country laws, and a series of consultation and reporting requirements to increase transparency and accountability to the international community.

The government may cancel any solicitation that does not meet the requirements. Accordingly, we are cancelling this RFP because we received no proposals that met the requirements requested by the global community. The Department intends to reissue the RFP at a future date to be determined (TBD) so that the requirements of the global internet community can be served.

However, it has extended ICANN’s current IANA contract until September 30, 2012.

This means ICANN still has its IANA powers over the DNS root zone, at least for another six months.

While the NTIA has not yet revealed where ICANN’s bid for the contract fell short, it is known that the NTIA and ICANN’s senior management did not exactly see eye to eye on certain issues.

One of the key sticking points is the NTIA’s demand that the IANA contractor – ICANN – must document that all new gTLD delegations are in “the global public interest”.

This demand is a way to prevent another controversy such as the approval of .xxx a year ago, which the Governmental Advisory Committee objected to on the grounds that it was not the “the global public interest”.

Coupled with newly strengthened Applicant Guidebook powers for the GAC to object to new gTLD application, the IANA language could be described as “if the GAC objects, you must reject”.

If the GAC were to declare .gay or .catholic “not in the global public interest”, it would be pretty tough for ICANN to prove otherwise.

But ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom has previously stated that he believed such rules imposed by the US government would undermine the multistakeholder process.

He told the NTIA last June that the draft IANA contract language stood to “rewrite” ICANN’s own process when it came to approving new gTLDs.

The IANA functions contract should not be used to rewrite the policy and implementation process adopted through the bottom-up decision-making process. Not only would this undermine the very principle of the multi-stakeholder model, it would be inconsistent with the objective of more clearly distinguishing policy development from operational implementation by the IANA functions operator.

Since then, language requiring ICANN to prove “consensus” on new gTLD delegations was removed, but language requiring it to demonstrate the “global public interest” remains.

The game is bigger than petty squabbling about new gTLDs, however.

The US government is worried about International Telecommunications Union treaty talks later this year, which many countries want to use to push for government-led internet governance.

A strong GAC, backed by an enforceable IANA contract, is one way to field concerns that ICANN is not responsive enough to government interests.

It’s tempting to view the deferral of the IANA renewal as an attempt to wait out Beckstrom’s tenure as CEO – he’s set to leave at the end of June – and deal with a more compliant replacement instead.

18 Comments Tagged: , , , , ,

NTIA throws a bomb, cancels IANA contract RFP

Kevin Murphy, March 10, 2012, Domain Policy

Just hours before ICANN’s Costa Rica meeting kicks off, the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration has cast uncertainty over the new gTLD program by throwing another of its now-traditional last-minute bombs.

CLICK HERE for the updated story.

It’s canceled the request for proposals that was expected to lead to ICANN being awarded a new IANA contract – the contract that enables it to approve new top-level domains.

In an amendment to the November RFP posted last night, the Department of Commerce said it “hereby cancels RFP SA1301-12-RP-IANA in its entirety.”

In a notice on the Federal Business Opportunities web site, it added:

Request for Proposal (RFP) SA1301-12-RP-IANA is hereby cancelled. The Department of Commerce intends to reissue the RFP at a future date, date to be determined (TBD). Interested parties are encouraged to periodically visit for updates.

ICANN’s current IANA agreement is due to expire at the end of March and, by my reading, the NTIA has used up all of its options to extend.

Many expected ICANN or the NTIA to announce that the new contract had been awarded to ICANN yesterday, or when the Costa Rica meeting officially kicks off this coming Monday.

For the RFP to be canceled now without explanation hangs a huge question mark over ICANN’s ongoing ability to approve new gTLDs.

There are already community murmurs about ICANN extending the current gTLD application window beyond its current April 12 deadline, and this development may feed such rumors.

This is a developing story, but at the moment it appears that yet again the NTIA’s last-minute attention-seeking bombshell has stolen the show before the show even begins.

UPDATE: Shortly after this story was published, the NTIA released its rationale for the cancellation. Read about it here.

8 Comments Tagged: , , , ,

Aussie telco to apply for dot-brand gTLD

ARI Registry Services has managed to persuade another client to come clean about its dot-brand gTLD plans.

According to a report in the Australian press, Perth-based carrier/ISP iiNet plans to apply for .iinet using ARI for application support.

The report also states that rival telco Optus is mulling its options, while Telstra is saying it will not apply.

ARI has previously announced Singapore telco StarHub and the Australian Football League as dot-brand clients.

Comment Tagged: , , , , ,