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.sexy and 10 more gTLDs now in the root

Kevin Murphy, November 14, 2013, Domain Registries

The third batch of new gTLDs have gone live.

Uniregistry’s .sexy and .tattoo are currently in the DNS root zone, the first two of its portfolio to become active.

The TLDs .bike, .construction, .contractors, .estate, .gallery, .graphics, .land, .plumbing, and .technology from Donuts have also gone live today.

Donuts already had 10 new gTLDs in the root from the first two batches.

There are now 24 live new gTLDs.

The first second-level domains to become available will be nic.tld in each, per the ICANN contract they’ve all signed.

You’ll notice that they’re all ASCII strings, despite the fact that IDNs get priority treatment in the new gTLD program.

Donuts puts date to first Sunrise, signs big registrars, says it won’t have a landrush

Kevin Murphy, November 6, 2013, Domain Registries

Donuts has announced the dates of its first Sunrise periods and revealed that it’s not planning to run a landrush period for its first seven new gTLDs.

The company said today that it plans to take .bike, .clothing, .guru, .holdings, .plumbing, .singles and .ventures to Sunrise on November 26.

It’s opted for a 60-day Sunrise period, going to full general availability on January 29 next year. The company said:

Donuts will forego a traditional land-rush and move directly to general availability to all registrants on January 29, 2014. Donuts’ gTLDs are available for registration by anyone without restriction.

Donuts also said it has signed the following registrars to its channel: GoDaddy, 1&1 Internet, Web.com, Tucows, Host Europe Group, Key-Systems, CSC Digital Brand Services, MarkMonitor, NetNames, Gandi, united-domains, Melbourne IT and 101domain.

While the press release issued this afternoon suggests that the seven strings in question have already been delegated, I’m not seeing them in the DNS root zone yet.

First new gTLDs to go live “in the next few hours”

Kevin Murphy, October 23, 2013, Domain Registries

The first four new gTLDs are expected to go live in the next few hours.

That’s according to the registries themselves, and reports out of the Internet Governance Forum in Bali, where ICANN division president Akram Atallah was speaking on a panel earlier today.

The gTLDs are: .сайт (Russian “.site”) and .онлайн (Russian “.online”) from CORE Association, شبكة. (Arabic “.web”) from dotShabaka Registry and .游戏 (Chinese “.games”) from Donuts.

By “go live” I mean of course that the ASCII versions of these strings (for example, .xn--ngbc5azd for شبكة.) will be entered into the DNS root.

It may take a short while for the registries to activate second-level domains (such as nic.) under their new TLDs, and nothing will actually go on sale for weeks.

They’re all of course internationalized domain names, given ICANN’s decision almost a year ago to prioritize IDNs at all stages of the evaluation and delegation process.

All four received their block-lists of “collision risk” second-level domains on Friday and elected to implement the blocks to get to delegation faster.

The three registries signed their contracts on stage at the ICANN meeting in Durban July 15.

This is a pretty big day for ICANN and its community. After many years and countless arguments and delays, new gTLDs are actually about to go live!

Live new gTLDs this month? First four pass to delegation

Kevin Murphy, October 22, 2013, Domain Registries

New gTLDs are on the home stretch, after ICANN sent the first four applications to the final delegation stage of the process.

The four are: .сайт (Russian “.site”) and .онлайн (Russian “.online”) from Core Association, شبكة. (Arabic “.web”) from dotShabaka Registry and .游戏 (Chinese “.games”) from Donuts.

These were also the first four to sign their registry contracts with ICANN — over three months ago — and the first to be given their name collisions mitigation plan, just a few days ago.

Proceeding to delegation means the applications are now in the hands of IANA, the ICANN department with responsibility over changes to the DNS root system.

IANA has its own set of procedures to follow before delegating, which have historically taken a couple of weeks to process. If I recall correctly, .xxx was with IANA for about 10 days before it went live.

It seems possible that the first new gTLDs could be live this month, meaning the first sunrise periods could kick off in early December, with general availability following a month later.

However, the Christmas and New Year holiday period may wind up forcing some registrars to stagger their dates in order to benefit from the best publicity window when they finally go on sale.

Name collision block-lists to be published this week

Kevin Murphy, October 17, 2013, Domain Registries

ICANN will begin to publish the lists of domains that new gTLD registries must block at launch as early as this week, according to an updated name collisions plan released last night.

Registries that have already signed contracts with ICANN will be given their block-lists “before the end of this week”, ICANN said.

Registries that were not able to sign contracts because they’d been given an “uncalculated risk” categorization will now be invited, in priority order, to contracting.

The base Registry Agreement itself has been updated — unilaterally — to include provisions requiring registries to block second-level names deemed risky when they are delegated.

For each contracted gTLD, ICANN will provide what it’s calling a SLD Collision Occurrence Assessment, which will outline the steps registries need to take to mitigate their own collision risk.

It is also expected to contain a list of SLDs that have been seen on the Day In The Life Of The Internet data sets, collected from root server operators over 48-hour periods between 2006 and 2013.

Using previous years’ DITL data is news to me, and could potentially greatly expand the number of SLDs — already expected to be in the thousands in many cases — that registries are obliged to block.

“Most” new gTLD applicants are expected to be eligible for what ICANN calls an “alternative path to delegation”, in which the registry simply blocks the SLDs on an ICANN-provided list, gets delegated, and deals with the SLD Collision Occurrence Assessment at a later date.

Here’s how ICANN described the timetable for this:

For Registry Operators with executed registry agreements the Assessments and SLD lists will be posted to the specific TLD’s registry agreement page on the ICANN website. The first of these will be available before the end of this week.

In the coming weeks ICANN will post the alternative path eligibility assessments and SLD lists for all applied-for gTLDs.

In other words, if you haven’t already signed a contract there’s not yet a firm date on when you’ll find out how many — and which — names you’re expected to block, or even if you’re eligible for the alternative delegation path.

Six big reasons we won’t see any new gTLD launches until Q3

Kevin Murphy, April 5, 2013, Domain Policy

ICANN’s announcement of a big media bash in New York on April 23, to announce the launch of new gTLDs, has gotten many people thinking the first launches are imminent.

Wrong.

We’re not going to see any new gTLD domains on sale until the third quarter at the earliest, in my view, and here are a few good reasons why.

April 23 is just a PR thing

ICANN has said that April 23 is primarily about awareness-raising.

Not only does it hope to garner plenty of column inches talking about new gTLDs — helping the marketing efforts of their registries — it also hopes to ceremonially sign the first Registry Agreements.

I think CEO Fadi Chehade’s push to make the industry look more respectable will also play a part, with the promotion of the Registrant Rights and Responsibilities document.

But there’s never been any suggestion that any strings will be delegated at that time, much less go live.

The contracts are still hugely controversial

If ICANN wants to sign a Registry Agreement on April 23, it’s going to need a Registry Agreement to sign.

Right now, applicants are up in arms about ICANN’s demand for greater powers to amend the contract in future.

While ICANN has toned down its proposals, they may still be unacceptable to many registries and gTLD applicants.

Applicants have some impetus to reach agreement quickly — because they want to launch and start making money as soon as possible.

But ICANN wants the same powers added to the 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement, and registrars are generally less worried about the speedy approval of new gTLDs.

ICANN has tied the approval of the RA and the RAA together — only registrars on the new RAA will be able to sell domains in new gTLDs.

Chehade has also made it clear that agreement on the new RAA is a gating issue for new gTLD launches.

If registries, registrars and ICANN can’t settle these issues in Beijing, it’s hard to see how any contracts could be signed April 23. The first launch would be delayed accordingly.

GAC Advice might not be what we’re expecting

GAC Advice on New gTLDs is, in my view, the biggest gating issue applicants are facing right now.

GAC Advice is an integral part of the approval process outlined in the Applicant Guidebook and ICANN has said many times that it cannot and will not sign any contracts until the GAC has spoken.

But what does that mean from a process and timing point of view?

According to the Applicant Guidebook, if an application receives GAC Advice, it gets shunted from the main evaluation track to the ICANN board of directors for consideration.

It’s the only time the ICANN board has to get directly involved with the approval process, according to the Guidebook’s rather complex flow-charts.

GAC Advice is not an automatic death sentence, but any application the GAC is unanimously opposed to stands a very slim chance of getting approved by the board.

Given that ICANN is has said it will not sign contracts until it has received GAC Advice, and given that it has said it wants to sign the first contract April 23, it’s clearly expecting to know which applications are problematic and which are not during the next three weeks.

But I don’t think that’s necessarily going to happen. The GAC moves slowly and it has a track record of missing ICANN-imposed deadlines, which it often seems to regard as irksome.

Neither ICANN nor the GAC have ever said GAC Advice on New gTLDs will be issued during next week’s public meeting in Beijing. If a time is given it’s usually “after” or “following” Beijing.

And I don’t think the GAC, which decided against holding an inter-sessional meeting between Toronto and Beijing, is remotely close to providing a full list of specific applications of concern.

I do think a small number of slam-dunk bad applications – such as DotConnectAfrica’s .africa bid – will get Advised against during or after the Beijing meeting.

But I also think the GAC is likely to issue Advice that is much broader, and which may not provide the detail ICANN needs to carry the process forward for many applicants.

The GAC, in its most recent (delayed) update, is still talking about “categories” of concern – such as “consumer protection” and “geographical names” – some of which are very broad indeed.

Given the limited amount of time available to it in Beijing, I think it’s quite likely that the GAC is going to produce advice about categories as well as about individual applications.

And, crucially, I don’t think it’s necessarily going to give ICANN a comprehensive list of which specific applications fall into which categories.

If the GAC decides to issue Advice under the banner of “consumer protection”, for example, somebody is going to have to decide which applications are captured by that advice.

Is that just strings that relate to regulated industries such as pharmaceuticals or banking? Or is it any string that relates to selling stuff? What about .shop and .car? Shops and cars are “regulated” by consumer protection and safety laws in most countries.

Deciding which Advice covered which applications would not be an easy task, nor would it be a quick one. I don’t think the GAC has done this work yet, nor do I think it will in Beijing.

For the GAC to reach consensus advice against specific applications will in some cases require GAC representatives to return to their capitals for guidance, which would add delay.

There is, in my view, a very real possibility of more discussions being needed following Beijing, just in order to make sense of what the GAC comes up with.

The new gTLD approval process needs the GAC to provide a list of specific applications or strings with which it has concerns, and we may not see that before April 23.

ICANN may get a short list of applications that definitely do have Advice by then, but it won’t necessarily know which applications do not, which may complicate the contract-signing process.

The Trademark Clearinghouse still needs testing

The Trademark Clearinghouse is already, in one sense, open for business. Trademark owners have been able to submit their marks for validation for a couple of weeks now.

But the hard integration work has not been done yet, because the technical specifications the registries and registrars need to interface with IBM’s TMCH database have not all been finalized.

When the specs are done (it seems likely this will happen in the next few weeks), registries and registrars will need to finish writing their software and start production testing.

ICANN’s working timetable has the TMCH going live July 1, but companies that know much more than me about the technical issues at play here say it’s unlikely that they’ll be ready to go live with Sunrise and Trademark Claims services before August.

It’s in everyone’s interests to get all the bugs ironed out before launch.

For new gTLD registries, a failure of the centralized TMCH database could mean embarrassing bugs and downtime during their critical launch periods.

Trademark owners and domain registrants may also be concerned about the potential for loopholes.

For example, it’s still not clear to some how Trademark Claims – which notifies registrants when there’s a clash between a trademark and a domain they want – will interact with landrush periods.

Does the registrant only get a warning when they apply for the domain, which could be some weeks before a landrush auction? If so, what happens if a mark is submitted to the TMCH between the application and the auction and ultimate registration?

Is that a loophole to bypass Trademark Claims? Could a registrant get hit by a Claim after they’ve just spent thousands to register a domain?

These are the kinds of things that will need to be ironed out before the TMCH goes fully live.

There’s a sunrise notice period

The sunrise period is the first stage of launch in which customers get to register domain names.

Lest we forget, ICANN recently decided to implement a mandatory 30-day notice period for every new gTLD sunrise period. This adds a month to every registry’s go-live runway.

Because gTLD sunrise periods from now on all have to use the TMCH, registries may have to wait until the Clearinghouse is operational before announcing their sunrise dates.

If the TMCH goes live in July, this would push the first launch dates out until August.

Super-eager registries may of course announce their sunrise period as soon as they are able, and then delay it as necessary to accommodate the TMCH, but this might carry public relations risks.

Verisign’s security scare

It’s still not clear how Verisign’s warning about the security risks of launching new gTLDs on the current timetable will be received in Beijing.

If the GAC reckons Verisign’s “concerns” are valid, particularly on the issue of root zone stability, ICANN will have to do a lot of reassuring to avoid being advised to delay its schedule.

Could ICANN offer to finish off its work of root zone automation, for example, before delegating new gTLDs? To do so would add months to the roll-out timetable.

Don’t panic! Crocker clarifies “end of year” new gTLD comments

Kevin Murphy, January 11, 2013, Domain Registries

ICANN chairman Steve Crocker has clarified comments made during a recent interview in which he said he expected new gTLDs to be delegated “towards the end of the year”.

Crocker told DI today that ICANN plans to put new gTLDs into the root “as quickly as possible” and “hopefully by the middle of the year”.

In response to our blog post yesterday, he said in an email:

What I wanted to convey was that by the end of the year I hope we will have seen the effects of some of the first new gTLDs delegated into the root. I didn’t mean to suggest that those first delegations wouldn’t happen until the end of the year. We are working aggressively toward our goal of delegating some of the first new gTLDs as quickly as possible, hopefully by the middle of this year. Instead, I was looking beyond the instant the strings enter the root to the time when the community will be able to see the effects.

So, there you have it.

Crocker sees new gTLDs going live “towards the end of the year”

Kevin Murphy, January 10, 2013, Domain Policy

Not exactly the news that new gTLD applicants wanted to hear.

ICANN chairman Steve Crocker has put a tentative date of “towards the end of the year” for the first approval and delegation of new gTLDs, months later than some applicants were expecting.

In a video interview with ICANN media affairs chief Brad White, reviewing the organization’s goals for the year, Crocker said:

We will see some strings towards the end of the year I think actually approved and perhaps delegated into the root and so it will be interesting to see the how all that comes out what kinds of moves are made.

That time-frame is later than most industry experts speaking to Bloomberg BNA for a recent briefing paper had predicted. Some expected new gTLDs to start hitting the root as early as April.

Better news for applicants came in Crocker’s response to a question about whether ICANN was wedded to its 1,000 delegations-per-year limit, which could artificially throttle some applicants’ plans. He said:

I do not want to suggest that there will be a change, but I suspect there is plenty of capacity to increase that somewhat if it were necessary to do so.

The interview also discusses ICANN’s investment strategy for its new gTLD funds, its meetings strategy for the next few years, and the Registrar Accreditation Agreement (which Crocker said is “nearing completion”).

Watch the whole thing here: