Archive for March, 2010

IDN ccTLD Fast Track developments

Friday, March 26th, 2010

By Jon Lawrence

The IDN ccTLD Fast Track program is moving along rapidly, with ICANN’s announcement that both the Simplified and Traditional Chinese script versions of .china have passed the string evaluation phase of the IDN ccTLD Fast Track Program. Alongside this, ICANN have also announced the release of a proposed implementation plan for ‘Synchronised IDN ccTLDs’ that will create the rules by which these variant IDN ccTLDs will coexist.

A further seven IDN ccTLDs have also just passed the string evaluation phase, bringing to 15 the number of strings that have reached this stage, representing 12 countries and involving seven different scripts.

The Synchronised IDN ccTLD Implementation Plan is a big step forward for the IDN program and is the result of a very fast turnaround and some great work by the Equivalent Strings Working Group (ES-WG) set up by the ICANN Board just two weeks ago in Nairobi.

By ‘synchronised IDN ccTLDs’, ICANN means having two variants of a ccTLD delegated – for example, both the Simplified (.中国) and Traditional (.中國) Chinese script versions of .china will be added to the root and will function interchangeably, so that a user will be able to enter either version and be routed to the same website or service.

The principles drafted by the Working Group state that there must be ‘convergence at every level of the domain name’ and that there must be ‘adequate and verifiable procedures’ to ensure this occurs.

Chinese script variants have been available for some years at the second-level, in .cn and .hk, so there is considerable experience within the industry in managing this issue that will be valuable in informing the Working Group’s work.

Though the main focus at this stage is on the Chinese scripts, this issue will impact on both ccTLDs and gTLDs in other scripts as well.  Saudi Arabia, for example, have applied for three variants of their السعودية. (.alsaudiah) Arabic script IDN ccTLD.

The proposed implementation plan has been posted here and is open to public comment until 13th April, before the Board will consider the issue again at their meeting on 22nd April.

It is very encouraging to see the ICANN Board’s urgent commitment to the resolution of this important issue that will help to ensure the successful implementation of IDN ccTLDs, something for which many of our clients and some of the other billions of people around the world who don’t use Latin based scripts in their language have been waiting for a number of years.

AusRegistry International’s Domain Name Registry Software includes fully-configurable support for IDN variants and is being used for the امارات. (.emarat) Arabic script IDN ccTLD for the United Arab Emirates as well as the قطر. (.qatar) Arabic script IDN ccTLD for Qatar.

See ICANN’s announcement about the Synchronised IDN Implementation Plan.

The other countries that have just passed the string evaluation phase are:

Hong Kong (Chinese) .香港

Palestine (Arabic) فلسطين.

Qatar (Arabic) قطر.

Sri Lanka (Sinhalese and Tamil) .ලංකා .இலங்கை

Taiwan (Chinese – Simplified and Traditional) .台灣 .台湾

Thailand (Thai) .ไทย

Tunisia (Arabic) تونس.

See the full list of IDN ccTLD strings that have passed the string evaluation phase.

AusRegistry International on the road

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

By Jon Lawrence

Earlier this month, I attended three industry meetings on two continents, which made for a long but rewarding trip. I had the pleasure of meeting many new contacts from across the globe, presented a variety of information about our experiences in operating a TLD Registry at two of these meetings and participated in a very interesting and constructive ICANN Meeting.

The Asia Pacific Top Level Domain Association (APTLD) meeting, held alongside the APRICOT and APNIC meetings in Kuala Lumpur was well attended and featured updates from a number of ccTLD Managers from across the region on topics such as the roll-out of IDN ccTLDs and DNSSEC.

I delivered a presentation, titled ‘Launching an IDN ccTLD’ which focused on the non-technical issues that need to be considered to ensure a smooth launch of an IDN ccTLD.

Next stop was Nairobi, for the African Top Level Domain Association (AfTLD) Meeting.  This was our first opportunity to attend an AfTLD meeting, and it was a pleasure to meet many of the ccTLD Managers from across Africa.  I was again given the opportunity to deliver a presentation, titled ‘Building a successful ccTLD’, which provided an overview of a wide range of factors that combine to make a ccTLD successful.

The ICANN Meeting, at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, in downtown Nairobi, turned out to be one of the more intriguing and successful ICANN meetings in some time.  Numbers were certainly down as many people were put off by the security situation in Nairobi, but this resulted in a large increase in the number of remote participants.  ICANN had taken steps to enhance their remote participation facilities, in anticipation of the larger numbers, and it worked very well by all reports.  The local organisers, KENIC and the Communications Commission of Kenya, along with ICANN’s meeting team did a great job of keeping everything running smoothly on the ground, despite Nairobi’s security and traffic challenges, and especially as they found out at the last minute that they would have to share the venue with a regional Heads of State meeting being held to discuss the peace process in Southern Sudan.

Everything went off without any major hitches though and the Gala Night, held at the famous Carnivore restaurant, was also a great success.

At the end of the week, the Board voted down the Expression of Interest proposal for the new gTLD program.

Despite this decision, there was much to be positive about as a number of the overarching issues appear to be close to resolved, including Trademark protection and scaling of the Root.  See our blog on the outcomes of this here. ICANN staff have also indicated that the next draft of the Applicant Guidebook (version 4, due out before the next meeting in Brussels, in June), will be ‘nearly final’ which is great news for future gTLD applicants.

On the IDN front, the Board also confirmed that two character IDN gTLDs are likely to be permitted, at least in non-Latin character sets, which will come as a relief to many Asian gTLD applicants.  The Board also passed two resolutions that indicate that finding a solution to the issue of IDN variants is a major priority.  This is particularly relevant to the Chinese script as there are both Simplified and Traditional variants of many Chinese characters, and potentially affects both gTLDs and ccTLDs using Chinese script.

The future looks bright for new gTLDs!

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

By Tony Kirsch

The ICANN Board meeting undertaken recently in Nairobi was indeed eventful and there were many vital topics on the agenda, in particular for the new gTLD program that kept many interested parties on the edges of their seats as the meeting unfolded.

Listening in remotely from Australia proved to be a great success after security concerns had sadly dampened my enthusiasm for the 24 hour flight.

One of the more controversial decisions was in regard to the Expression of Interest (EOI), a program intended to allow potential new gTLD applicants to pre-register for their desired TLD and provide ICANN and the community with invaluable information regarding likely volumes of applications.

The genesis of the EOI took place at the ICANN meeting in Seoul and many in the industry strongly believed it would solve many of the unresolved issues relating to the new gTLD program. The EOI was however withdrawn by the Board at the meeting in Nairobi on the basis that many of the issues holding up the launch of the program were close to being resolved, rendering the EOI somewhat redundant.

Although many in the internet community were quite unhappy with this decision, it was encouraging to hear such rigorous discussion by Board members and ICANN staff suggesting that many of the outstanding issues were in fact close to being resolved.

Further supporting the idea that we were rapidly approaching a Final Application Guidebook, the Board also announced a list of items to be included in version 4 of the Draft Application Guidebook including;

•    Trademark Clearinghouse
•    Uniform Rapid Suspension System (URS)
•    IDN Variants
•    IDN 3 Character Requirement

thus making substantial progress towards resolving many concerns exhibited by the internet community over recent times.

So finally after years of waiting, real progress has been made and things are now starting to look good for new gTLD applicants who have waited for the program to go ahead for quite some time. A new version of the Draft Application Guidebook is due right before the 38th ICANN meeting in Brussels, in June, and according to ICANN staff and Board comments, it is likely to be very close to the final version.

So what does this mean for everyone out there who has their mind set on applying for a new gTLD?

There are a number of steps that each applicants needs to go through and be prepared for when  the application window opens. For organisations and governments, this is the time when you need to start considering what you have to do to get your TLD and to begin the rigorous preparation and planning that will ensure that your TLD is a success.

Furthermore, there is a heavy requirement on new TLD applicants to justify their ability to technically and financially operate a TLD, those who think they can make a last minute decision about proceeding should beware.

Public statements of intent to apply for their own TLD have been given from many cities around the world as many governments seek to provide a localised location for their residents online.

Additionally, I was very excited to see that the message has reached some large corporate entities with Canon announcing last week their intention to apply for .canon as the future of their corporate online branding.

To obtain their company name or trademark as a TLD is an unprecedented opportunity for corporations around the world and a unique branding exercise with large benefits attached. I think we can expect to see many others follow the innovative trend set by the Japanese electronics powerhouse in the near future.

So, despite a little angst at not having the Expression of Interest program approved by the Board last week, the update is that there is even better news for those of us supporting new gTLDs as we rapidly approach the application period later in the year.

And as always, we’re always here to help potential applicants through this maze. Just drop us an email here.