Archive for February, 2010

AusRegistry International to attend APTLD, AfTLD and ICANN Nairobi Meetings

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

By Jon Lawrence

Over the coming weeks, I will be attending a number of international conferences as we continue to work with our clients and share our knowledge with other industry experts.

Next week, the Annual Meeting of the Asia Pacific Top Level Domain Association (APTLD) in Kuala Lumpur will be our focus.  AusRegistry International has been a supporter of APTLD for some years now and I’m looking forward to meeting with and learning from ccTLD Managers from around the region.  As APTLD was a driving force behind ICANN’s decision to move forward with the IDN ccTLD Fast Track Program, and a number of countries from the region have already submitted applications for IDN ccTLDs in their local scripts, a large focus of the meeting will naturally be on the roll-out of these new IDN ccTLDs.  I will be among the presenters talking about the issues involved in getting a new ccTLD off the ground.

At the conclusion of the APTLD Meeting I will be travelling on to Nairobi for the African Top Level Domain Association (AfTLD) and ICANN Meetings being held there.  AusRegistry International became the first Associate Member of AfTLD in 2009 and I am looking forward to meeting ccTLD Managers from across the continent and continuing our work with the Association to promote capacity building and industry best practice.  Additionally, I will be sharing our knowledge on how to build and manage a successful TLD via a presentation to the group.

The ICANN Meeting in Nairobi following the AfTLD meeting also promises to be interesting with some very important topics such as the Expression of Interest and the issue of Vertical Integration between gTLD Registries and Registrars for new TLDs likely to attract significant attention from the community. Despite a likely lower attendance than at previous meetings due to security concerns, I still look forward to meeting with those who will be making the journey.

Similarly, the IDN Policy Development Process also continues and we look forward to hearing the latest update on this important policy work.

If you’re attending any of these meetings, and would like to arrange a meeting, please don’t hesitate to Contact Us.

APTLD Meeting – Kuala Lumpur, 1st & 2nd March 2010
AfTLD Meeting – Nairobi, 7th March 2010
ICANN Meeting 37 – Nairobi 7th to 12th March 2010

Expression of Interest for New TLDs: Time to shine!!

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

By Tony Kirsch

I guess I should start this entry by coming clean. An admission of sorts if you will.

I never really believed that the Expression of Interest round for new TLDs would deliver any real value.

Don’t get me wrong… I totally understood why those supporting it wanted it and applaud them for pumping air into what felt like a big hot air balloon destined to bury itself into the sea.

Like many of those present  at the ICANN Seoul meeting last October, and indeed along with those around the globe who were eagerly awaiting new TLDs, I too was angered and frustrated at ICANN’s deadlines that were slipping like a cartoon character running on an oil slick, caused by an incessant search by certain industry factions for perfection in an imperfect science. (We do work with the internet remember?).

So, kudos to those who took the initiative.

In fact, in hindsight I’d even go so far as to say I was a little wrong.

It has provided us with something to work towards; an eventual target that allowed us to re-ignite our faith in ICANN and/or new TLDs at best, or at worst something to keep the wheels moving and stop new TLDs falling into the ‘too hard basket’ for the wider ICANN community.

I could see the clear benefit in overcoming the overarching issue of Root Scaling. Number of applicants = maximum number of potential strings. We can mitigate those risks to some extent and put those out there worrying about 10,000+ strings back in their box. Makes sense.

I could even see that it could help ICANN to be ‘operationally prepared’ and know what to plan for internally (although I fail to see how they aren’t already prepared, but I’ll save that for another day).

And I could even, at a stretch, see how the information could help ICANN be more comfortable with the potential for objections and string contention, despite there being more than adequate measures for dealing with these in the Draft Applicant Guidebook.

My fears were always related to bandwidth, or more specifically, the bandwidth of ICANN’s staff. The EOI appeared to be a potentially unnecessary burden on the already heavily loaded ICANN staff, when in fact we should have been focusing on one goal alone – The Final Applicant Guidebook. In reality, I don’t think I was the only one confident that the EOI was only going to add yet more delays.

Any of you reading this that are, or have previously been, involved with software, technology or something  that required niche knowledge or skills know this one very simple principle.

“More people does not necessarily mean more output”

Despite these challenges, ICANN staff released a Discussion Paper on the EOI for public comment last week which contained the proposed process and likely costs ICANN would incur in addition to their original budgets. Some of the timeframes proposed by ICANN staff appear to be conservative, even bordering on the ridiculous, such as the 60 day application period and a 4 week ‘blackout’ period for ICANN to review applications submitted in the final weeks of the 60 day window. (Remember that applicants will only be submitting some basic application details and some money, not a full application)

That said, the overall principles and models behind the process appear solid and worthy of moving forward.

So it is with great anticipation that the internet community await the outcomes of the ICANN meeting in Nairobi next month. Following some community input and discussion in the first few days of the meeting, the ICANN Board will vote on whether to proceed with the EOI which will be seen as an affirmation of ICANN’s commitment (pun intended) to the new TLD program.

We can only hope that the EOI is approved by the Board and that we can finally start bringing some competition and choice to the end users of the world.

ICANN’s reputation is relying on it.

Registry/Registrar Separation: clarifying the mess!

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

By Tony Kirsch

Do you keep hearing about this Registry/Registrar Separation (or Vertical Integration) issue but really aren’t sure what it’s all about?

This post should help you to get a better understanding of the details of this saga which is one of the most controversial, yet still unresolved issues within the new gTLD program.

The outcome of this debate will have a large impact on the final shape of the gTLD program and there is much at stake for those involved.  In simple terms,  the two positions are as follows;

a)    Pro-integration – argues that the currently mandated separation between Registrars and Registries is outdated and unnecessary.

As a result, for example, VeriSign is prohibited from selling domain names in .com and .net to end users as they are the Registry provider, with similar restrictions in place across other gTLDs such as .biz, .org and .info.

The background to this model was the former monopoly position enjoyed by Network Solutions as both the Registry and sole Registrar for the .com, .net and .org TLDs (VeriSign acquired Network Solutions in 2000 and subsequently sold the brand and the Registrar business in 2003).

Desired outcome: Registry operators will be able to also act as a Registrar for domain names in their own gTLD

b)    Pro-separation – argues that, should Registries be able to also act as Registrars in their own TLD, the risk of them misusing data regarding consumer demand is too high. This would be data that, as a Registry and Registrar in a TLD, would only be available to that applicant and may provide competitive advantage.

Desire outcome: Maintain the status quo situation for new gTLDs. A Registry would be prevented from selling domain names in their own gTLD but could own other TLDs provided they did not retail them.

Of course, there are variations on these positions but these are the salient points being argued by the community.

There have been significant revisions of the proposed policies relating to this issue in various versions of the Draft Applicant Guidebook and the argument has effectively gone around in circles. In particular, the CRA International paper that seemed to provide options that would suit the majority of participants was accepted by ICANN staff as a path forward in Draft Guidebook version 2. However, this was removed due to public pressure in Draft Guidebook version 3 and ICANN staff have continued to leave this issue open for public comment and guidance.

At the request of the Generic Names Supporting Organisation (GNSO), ICANN staff provided an issues paper for public comment in mid-December 2009 addressing the topic of Vertical Integration.  The purpose of this paper was to assist the Council in deciding whether it was acceptable to move forward with new gTLDs without a full Policy Development Process (PDP) to find a consensus-based resolution to this issue.

Note – Policy Development Processes are undertaken by the Council to make a wide range of gTLD policies and have historically taken at least six and sometimes greater than 12 months to complete. Not great news for those who have been waiting for new gTLDs for quite some time already.

This issues paper effectively said that;

a)    given that any outcomes from a PDP would be unlikely to alter the contracts of the existing Registries such as .com, and

b)    given that the GNSO could effectively help with the planning of the new gTLD program,

that ICANN staff recommend that a PDP be delayed until after the first round of new gTLDs is completed to allow time for more data to be gathered and to facilitate a better understanding of the potential impacts of the options to be considered.

Recently, it appears that this recommendation has been ignored by the GNSO Council and that that the issue of Registry/Registrar Separation is heading towards a PDP. This gives rise to new concerns about potential further delays in the new gTLD program and compounds existing industry perception about ICANN’s ability to work through these issues with any level of expediency.

Simultaneously and perhaps even more confusingly, the ICANN Board have suggested that this will be a topic of conversation at the Nairobi Board meeting in March and in a release yesterday stated that they would be publishing for community comment a new registry-registrar separation model for inclusion in the next draft of the gTLD agreement, due in June.

Confused? You’re not alone.

At this stage all we can do is hope for a clear process from the Expression of Interest and trust that between the Board and/or the GNSO that we remain focused on moving forward to a decision on this ongoing issue as soon as possible.

City TLDs: First things first

Friday, February 12th, 2010

By Maggie Whitnall

More and more geographic locations or cities are seeing merit in new gTLDs – and it’s not just the leading cities of the world who are applying. So far, a combination of 34 continents (Africa, regions (Venetia – .vtn), countries (Scotland – .sco), territories (Yorkshire- .yks), provinces (Leon – .lli), states (Bavaria – .bayern) and cities (London – .london) have announced their intention to bid when ICANN opens its applications. And why wouldn’t they given their unique position of being able to apply for a stake in internet history and an opportunity to invest in the future of its people, its culture and the prospect of developing a true global presence  – and let’s not forget the potential to generate a significant revenue stream if they so desire.

Many applicants are putting up websites trying to create a sense of pride and community support.
However, recently we’ve noticed a trend emerging with regard to City TLDs where prospective applicants are spending time and money setting up businesses and marketing the City TLD to gather support, whilst neglecting to previously obtain the necessary approval from the relevant government authority. A giant oversight one would assume given this approval is a strict ICANN requirement.

Significant amounts of money are being spent to market these new City TLDs, so, boldly publicising your intentions in the hopes that other prospective applicants will be scared off or that governments have no alternative but to back your application is a brave move indeed.

ICANN have invested substantial effort into ensuring the comments of the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) are reflected into the application process for new gTLDs and without the support or approval from the relevant government authority, the application will not pass through the evaluation procedures.

This week the Greenspun Corporation of Las Vegas, who own and operate the website, found themselves dealing with this situation (article), having found out only two weeks ago that another entity, Dot Vegas Inc had been in discussions with the Las Vegas City Council for the past six months regarding support for the dotVegas TLD. To add insult to injury, the matter was voted on at its most recent council meeting and whilst the Greenspun Corporation protested that the council should have sought outside bids, Las Vegas City Council went ahead and voted in favour of Dot Vegas Inc, providing them with support for their bid to ICANN. (Something about an early bird and a worm comes to mind here).

Meanwhile, the heavily publicised City TLD applicant and long-time new TLD proponent, dotBERLIN GmbH & Co. KG, are still none the wiser as to whether the City of Berlin will support their bid. With another recent applicant, Unite Berlin, competing for the same Government approval, this must also be a worrying time for both companies who have already invested a substantial amount of time and money into their campaigns.

So, some timely words of advice for potential applicants from AusRegistry International who have spent the last year or so working with a variety of Governments around the world.

Draw up a strong business case for your City TLD then present it to the relevant government authorities ASAP. It’s important that Governments are given ample time to consider a proposal and allowed to follow their correct procedures and protocols. Whatever the case, time is the most important consideration, so don’t get caught up in the detail as much as taking direct and positive action with the stakeholders and getting that all important stamp of approval.

See the details of our geoTLD program here.

New gTLD updates from DomainFest in LA

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

By Adrian Kinderis

Last week, I attended the DomainFest conference in Los Angeles where new gTLDs continued to be a hot topic within the Internet community.

In the session ‘New gTLDs: Bonanza or Bust?’ ICANN Senior Vice President, Services Kurt Pritz discussed some interesting points regarding the gTLD program which I think are worth sharing with our readers.

As part of his presentation, Pritz discussed the following seven issues that he stated must be solved before the introduction of new gTLDs can go ahead:

    1. Trademark issues
    2. Preparation for and protection against malicious behaviour
    3. The importance of identifying and addressing market impacts
    4. The importance of a stable and secure root zone
    5. Registry-Registrar separation
    6. The three character requirement for IDN gTLDs
    7. The Expression of Interest or EOI

      This is positive news for many of us involved with new gTLDs as much progress has been made on these topics in recent times and it would appear that we are rapidly approaching a time where this process will be finalised.

      Pritz advised that there will be updates to the Draft Application Guide (DAG) released in mid February, and a new version published in June to coincide with the Brussels meeting which he believed would be very close to the final application guidebook.

      According to Pritz, a modified version of the EOI rules will be released in the next couple of weeks which will be based upon public comments and work from ICANN staff. Some of the rules are not expected to change, such as participation in the EOI being mandatory for those wishing to apply for a new gTLD in the first round and the US$55,000 application deposit which then will be put towards the new gTLD program application fee.

      So, as usual there is a lot happening in the wonderful world of new gTLDs.

      In the meantime, my dedicated staff continue to work with our clients and prospective applicants to make sure we are ready to meet their needs when ICANN stop listening to the very small number of self serving antagonists trying to sabotage this program and provide the global community with what it truly deserves – a gTLD market full of choice and competition.

      First IDN ccTLD Fast Track Applications Approved

      Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

      By Adrian Kinderis

      On January 21, ICANN announced they had approved the first four applications from the IDN ccTLD Fast Track process which began after acceptance of the program by the ICANN Board at the Seoul meeting in November last year.

      A total of 16 countries/territories applied for an IDN ccTLD name through the program and the successful applicants in this recent announcement by ICANN were the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, the Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia. These nations can now enter the next phase of the program as they strive to provide their citizens with Domain Names in their local script.

      AusRegistry International would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the successful applicants, in particular our friends and colleagues at the .ae Domain Administration (aeDA) in the United Arab Emirates who operate the .ae ccTLD and will be the operator of the new IDN ccTLD. Both the .ae ccTLD and the new IDN ccTLD will be powered by AusRegistry International’s Domain Name Registry Software.

      AusRegistry International is very excited to be part of this historic evolution in the Internet and proud that one of the very first IDN TLDs will be running on the software we have invested so much time and effort in.

      Once again, congratulations to the approved applicants!

      To read more about the IDN ccTLDs and how AusRegistry International can assist applicants visit our website.