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Network Solutions will sell .xxx domains

Kevin Murphy, January 14, 2011, Domain Registrars

Network Solutions has become the first big-name registrar to show that it will support the proposed .xxx top-level domain.

This page has recently appeared on the NSI site, accessible from the company’s home page through the link “.xxx Coming Soon”.

NSI appears confident that ICANN will approve the TLD soon:

.XXX will be launching shortly and Network Solutions is working with ICM Registry to provide informational services for our customers that wish to take advantage of the launch and register domain names.

The TLD is currently being tied up by ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee, but many believe it’s likely to be a shoo-in at the San Francisco meeting in March or sooner.

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Cute sees .org’s future in new TLDs

Kevin Murphy, January 14, 2011, Domain Registries

The Public Interest Registry sees new top-level domains as an opportunity to strengthen the .org brand as well as add new TLDs to its stable, according to newly appointed CEO Brian Cute.

“We have the new round of gTLDs opening up soon, and I see that as genuinely an opportunity for PIR, so a lot of our strategic focus will be there,” Cute said in an interview.

Internationalized domain name TLDs will play a major role in this strategy. Cute said that “expanding .org into the IDN world” will be the key focus.

While PIR plans to apply to ICANN for several IDN variants of .org, there’s less interest in expanding into ASCII strings or outside of the company’s “public interest” mission.

“We not particularly looking at that opportunity,” Cute said.

He also believes that the large number of new TLDs ICANN is expected to authorize could actually strengthen .org as a brand.

“There will be lots of new entrants, lots of new competition,” he said. “The environment will be one where if we play our cards right, we’ll be able to be successful and in fact flourish.”

Cute was named CEO of PIR earlier today. Previously, he worked at Afilias, a close partner, so his learning curve at his new employer will be relatively gentle.

He said he doesn’t plan to shake things up much.

“I don’t see any need to make any major course corrections to our strategy,” he said. “It’s now a matter of execution. There will be new competition so we will have to execute well.”

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Brian Cute named CEO of .org

Kevin Murphy, January 14, 2011, Domain Registries

Public Interest Registry, which manages the .org domain, has named Brian Cute as its new CEO, following the resignation of Alexa Raad last August.

Cute was most recently a vice president at Afilias, which provides .org’s back-end registry infrastructure. Before that, he was with VeriSign, .org’s original custodian.

He’s a familiar face to many in the domain name industry and the ICANN community, most recently chairing ICANN’s Accountability and Transparency Review Team.

Cute replaces Maarten Botterman, PIR’s chairman, who had stepped into the CEO’s office temporarily after Raad quit. He starts February 1.

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ICANN staff swamped

Kevin Murphy, January 14, 2011, Domain Policy

ICANN’s board of directors is giving its staff and policy-making bodies more work than they can handle.

The GNSO Council yesterday voted to shelve board-requested work on the new top level domains program because no ICANN staffers have the time to help coordinate the project.

Last month, the board asked the GNSO and other constituencies to come up with ideas, before mid-March, about how to measure the consumer benefits of new TLDs after they launch.

But the Council yesterday was faced with having to suspend other policy development, in order to get the required staff support, so decided instead to defer the new work.

A senior ICANN executive at the meeting said that ICANN staff is “not an unlimited resource” and has “no bandwidth to keep taking these projects”.

This has apparently been an issue for over a year.

In this particular instance, the problem project comprised part of ICANN’s obligations under its Affirmation of Commitments with the US government, so it’s not trivial stuff.

As others have noted, sometimes the amount of policy development going on in ICANN can appear overwhelming to outsiders, but it seems that this problem also extends to ICANN internally.

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Clinton agrees to do ICANN meeting

Kevin Murphy, January 14, 2011, Domain Policy

ICANN has confirmed that former US president Bill Clinton has agreed to speak at its San Francisco meeting in March.

But ICANN’s Scott Pinzon said in a blog post that a formal contract, which would be funded by a “targeted sponsorship” deal, has not yet been signed. He wrote:

We are also aware that ICANN meetings are highly structured, work-intensive events, and we want to be sure that an appearance by President Clinton enhances the meeting’s outcomes rather than distracts from them.

Read into that what you will.

Clinton’s appearance will likely make the San Francisco meeting ICANN’s best-attended so far, at least for a day or so. Expect TV.

It will also raise the profile of the new top-level domains program, if ICANN in fact approves it during the meeting.

On a personal level, this is tragic news. It’s already hard enough to get a coffee in the ICANN press room without a thousand other newbie reporters crowding the place out.

I’ve put in a request for an interview anyway.

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