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.
Verisign will pay ICANN roughly $8 million more per year in fees under its new .com registry agreement, CEO Jim Bidzos told financial analysts last night.
Under the new deal, approved by ICANN last month, the company pays ICANN a $0.25 fee for every .com registration-year, renewal or transfer, instead of the lump sums it paid previously.
That’s going to work out to about $25 million in 2013, Bidzos said on Verisign’s second-quarter earnings call last night, compared to about $17 million under the old arrangement.
The new agreement continues to give the company the right to increase its price by 7% a year in most years, of course, so it’s not all bad news for Verisign investors.
The deal is currently under review by the US Department of Commerce and Bidzos said he expects it to be approved before November 30, when the current contract expires.
The CEO of SX Registry has denied rumors that the company already plans to object to the two .sex new gTLD applications, but has not yet ruled out such a move.
The company runs Sint Maarten’s new ccTLD, .sx, and gossip at the ICANN meeting in Prague last month suggested that an objection or two against .sex might be made on confusing similarity grounds.
The rumors were fueled in part by SX Registry’s sexy launch marketing.
But in a recent email to DI, Normand Fortier wrote:
At this time SX Registry is still reviewing the impact of various gTLD applications and contrary to some published rumors, has not taken any official position or decision regarding a future course of action.
Existing ccTLD operators are allowed to file String Confusion Objections against gTLD applications, if they feel there’s a risk of confusion if the gTLD is approved.
And .sx/.sex is far from a unique case.
In fact, of the 375 applications for three-letter gTLDs in the first round, 304 have only one character variance with one or more existing ccTLDs, according to DI PRO’s string similarity analysis.
ICANN’s Sword algorithm, which compares the visual similarity of strings, gives .sex a score of 57% against .sx.
I’ve checked every three-character gTLD application against every existing ccTLD and found dozens of proposed gTLDs with much higher similarity scores when compared to ccTLD strings.
The full results are available to DI PRO subscribers over here.
ICANN has already started formally evaluating some of the 1,930 new generic top-level domain applications it has received, according to sources.
Technical and financial evaluations are believed to have been going on for several days at the three outside firms ICANN has contracted with – Ernst & Young, KPMG and JAS Global Advisors.
ICANN staff said a few times during the Prague meeting last month that July 12 was the kick-off date for evaluations, but I’m led to believe they may have started a little later than that.
Nevertheless, they’re underway.
What’s not yet known is how – or if – the 1,930 applications will be batched into more manageable chunks.
The last official word from ICANN came on June 28, when Cherine Chalaby, chair of the board’s new gTLD program committee, said an update would be provided in about three weeks.
With that admittedly vague deadline now in the past, we can only assume that the publication of a new timetable is imminent.
ICANN has brought its new gTLD program customer service portal back online after about five days of patching-related downtime.
A recent, proactive review of the CSC system identified potential vulnerabilities. To address these vulnerabilities, the CSC portal was taken offline while vendor-provided patches were applied. There have been no known compromises to any data.
New gTLD applicants will now have to log in to their TLD Application System accounts, which use the Citrix remote terminal software, to use their customer service tools.
Non-applicants will be able to ask customer service questions via email.
The Knowledge Base — essentially a program FAQ — is still offline, but ICANN said it hopes to bring it back up within a few days.