The DNS has been growing by, on average 1.1 top-level domains per day for the last 18 months or so, but that trajectory is set to change briefly next week when a TLD is removed.
The ccTLD .an, which represented the former Netherlands Antilles territories, is expected to be retired on July 31, according to published correspondence between ICANN and the Dutch government.
Three territories making up the former Dutch colony — Sint Maarten, Curaçao, and Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba — gained autonomy in 2010, qualifying them for their own ccTLDs.
They were granted .sx, .cw and .bq respectively. While the first two are live, .bq has not yet been delegated, though the Dutch government says it is close to a deal with a registry.
The Dutch had asked ICANN/IANA for a second extension to the removal deadline, to October 31, but this request was either turned down or retracted after talks at the ICANN Buenos Aires meeting.
Only about 20 registrants are still using .an, according to ICANN.
The large majority of .an names still showing up in Google redirect to other sites in .nl, .com, .sx or .cw.
.an is the second ccTLD to face removal this year after .tp, which represented Portuguese Timor, the nation now known as East Timor or Timor Leste (.tl).
The Bulgarian government is looking for a company to run the registry for its recently awarded .бг internationalized domain name.
.бг is the Cyrillic equivalent of .bg, the nation’s existing ccTLD.
After a tortuous battle through ICANN’s IDN ccTLD Fast Track process — where it was repeatedly rejected for looking too much like Brazil’s .br — the string was finally approved after an appeal last October.
The RFP is being carried out by the Ministry of Transport, Information Technology and Communications and will be open for the next 90 days.
MTITC says the winner will be registry whose proposal most closely adheres to a “principles and requirements” document, which is currently a dead link on the ministry web site.
There’s no government money on offer, but the winner will be supported in its request to IANA for delegation of the TLD.
I gather that the bidding is open to any European Union company.
The Somalian government has switched registry provider for its .so ccTLD from GMO Registry to soNIC, apparently a local provider.
The IANA records for .so were updated yesterday to indicate that Mogadishu-based soNIC is now the technical contact.
According to the current GMO-managed registry web site, new registrations were halted June 9 and will reopen at some point after July 8, when soNIC takes over.
In the meantime, renewal prices have been cranked up.
The .so domain opened up worldwide in late 2010, having been delegated the previous year.
The new registry tried to ride the wave created by .co’s launch a few months earlier, with middling results.
soNIC will evidently “ramp up abusive use monitoring and enforcement of acceptable use policies”. I wonder if that involves anti-piracy measures (sorry).
At the time the ccTLD launched, I noted that Somalia was pretty much the worst place in the world to live.
But, just as the new registry plans to clean up its namespace, the nation itself has started to clean up its act somewhat in the meantime. It’s now only number two on the Failed State Index.
New gTLD registries will have to wait a bit longer before they’re allowed to start selling two-character domain names, after ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee controversially issued new guidelines on their release.
The registries for hundreds of gTLDs will be affected by the delays, which could last a few months and were put in place by the ICANN board of directors at the request of the GAC at the ICANN 52 meeting in Singapore last week.
The two-character domain issue was one of the most contentious topics discussed at ICANN 52.
Exasperated registries complained to ICANN’s board that their requests to release such domains had been placed on hold by ICANN staff, apparently based on a letter from GAC chair Thomas Schneider which highlighted concerns held by a small number of governments.
The requests were frozen without a formal resolution by the board, and despite the fact that the GAC had stated more than once that it did not have consensus advice to give.
Some governments don’t want any two-letter domains that match their own ccTLDs to be released.
Italy, for example, has made it clear that it wants it.example and 1t.example blocked from registration, to avoid confusion.
Others, such as the US, have stated publicly that they have no issue with any two-character names being sold.
The process for releasing the names went live in December, following an October board resolution. It calls for a 30-day comment period on each request, with official approval coming seven to 10 days later.
But despite hundreds of requests going through the pipe, ICANN has yet to approve any. That seems to be due to Schneider’s letter, which said some governments were worried the comment process was not transparent enough.
This looked like a case of ICANN staff putting an unreasonable delay on part of registries’ businesses, based on a non-consensus GAC position that was delivered months after everyone thought it was settled law.
Registries grilled the board and senior ICANN executives about this apparent breakdown in multi-stakeholder policy-making last Tuesday, but didn’t get much in the way of an explanation.
It seems the GAC chair made the request, and ICANN implemented a freeze on a live business process, without regard to the usual formal channels for GAC advice.
However, the GAC did issue formal advice on two-letter domains on Wednesday during the Singapore meeting. ICANN’s board adopted the advice wholesale the next day.
This means that the comment period on each request — even the ones that have already completed the 30-day period — will be extended to 60 days.
The delay will be longer than a month for those already in the pipe, however, as ICANN still has to implement the board-approved changes to the process.
One of those changes is to alert governments when a new registry request has been made, a potentially complex task given that not every government is a member of the GAC.
The board’s resolution says that all comments from governments “will be fully considered”, which probably means we won’t be seeing the string “it” released in any new gTLD.
The GAC has also said it will publish a list of governments that do not intend to object to any request, and a list of governments that intend to object to every request.
ICANN has heard an angry response from gTLD registries after delaying the release of two-character domains in new gTLDs, apparently at the whim of a small number of governments.
ICANN has yet to approve any of the over 350 requests for the release of two-letter domains filed by registries under a process approved by its board last October and launched in December.
The reason, according to registries, is that members of ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee — probably a minority — have objected and ICANN staff has “unilaterally” put a halt to the process.
Some governments — Spain, Italy and Cote d’Ivoire among them — are concerned that two-letter domains, such as es.example or it.example, may cause confusion with existing ccTLDs.
But the GAC itself was unable to find a consensus against the release of two-letter domains when it discussed the issue back in October. It merely asked for comment periods to allow individual governments to object to specific domains.
So ICANN’s board asked staff to create an “efficient procedure” to have requests swiftly approved, taking some of the stress off of the regular Registry Services Evaluation Process.
Two-letter domains have a premium dollar value for open registries, while multinational dot-brands expect to find them useful to market to the territories in which they operate.
Under the streamlined approval process, each request is subject to a 30-day comment period, and would be approved or not within seven to 10 days.
Right now, the oldest requests, which were filed in early December, are almost a month overdue for a response. The Registries Stakeholder Group told ICANN, in a letter (pdf):
We write to raise serious concern about what appears to be a recent closed-door, unilateral decision by ICANN staff, which took place over a period of weeks, to defer action on pending requests for two-character labels. This action was apparently initiated as a result of recent correspondence you received from the Chair of the Governmental Advisory Committee — but which critically does not represent formal consensus advice or even purport to represent the opinion of the GAC as a whole
It’s a case of governments strong-arming ICANN staff into changing policy, the registries claim.
GAC chair Thomas Schneider’s letter (pdf) says that an unspecified number of governments have “concerns” that the approval process was launched quite quickly and without any formal consultation with the GAC.
He goes on to make a laundry list of recommendations for making the process more amenable to governments, before requesting a “stay” on approvals until the GAC has further discussed the issue.
To date, registries representing a little over 300 strings have completed their 30-day comment periods, yet there have been only four comments from governments.
Italy and Cote d’Ivoire want ICANN to deny all requests for it.example and ci.example, because they may be confused with ccTLDs.
Spain, meanwhile, filed specific objections against the release of es.bingo, es.casino and es.abogado (lawyer), saying that these are regulated industries in Spain and should only be given to registrants who “have the required credentials”.
The RySG wants ICANN staff to immediately start approving requests that have passed through the comment process. The GAC says it will discuss the matter further at the ICANN 52 meeting currently going on in Singapore.
When RySG members raised the topic at a meeting the with ICANN board yesterday, directors avoided directly addressing the specific concerns.