By Tony Kirsch
New gTLDs continue to be a major topic of discussion within ICANN circles, and the regional meeting currently underway in Tokyo has revealed some interesting updates for potential applicants.
ICANN’s Chief gTLD Registry Liaison, Craig Schwartz, delivered a great presentation on the progress being made behind the scenes at ICANN and provided the attendees with an insight into a couple of key changes that are likely to be seen in the Final Applicant Guidebook. As many of our readers would be aware, we have been waiting in anticipation for the new gTLD Final Applicant Guidebook to be approved at a previously unconfirmed meeting of the ICANN Board. The date for is meeting was today announced as 23rd-24th September.
Like many others in the industry, we’ll be actively watching for the outcomes of this Board retreat where the focus will be on the new gTLD program’s remaining unresolved issues. In particular, the Board’s willingness to address the complicated Vertical Integration topic (given the inability of the VI Working Group to reach consensus) will be of interest to the many applicants likely to be affected by the outcome.
On another interesting note, one very important topic that has been flying under the radar is Registry Transition, namely the current requirement for new gTLD applicants to provide both a backup Registry Services organisation and a financial instrument sufficient to guarantee a minimum of three years of Registry operations in the event of the TLD owner being unable to operate it.
Obtaining a backup Registry Services provider is not particularly difficult. However, for many potential applicants (in particular smaller community-based applicants) the requirement to obtain a letter of credit from a financial organisation is an enormous burden and a significant additional cost.
Acknowledging this today and noting that the protection of the Registrant is paramount to this process, Schwartz said that ICANN had invested significant time and will further expand the recent concept of Emergency Backend Registry Operator (and yet another acronym, EBERO) whereby qualified applicants (i.e. Existing Registry Operators) could tender to ICANN to provide ‘temporary’ Registry Services in the event of critical failure of the Registry Operator to operate the gTLD.
This is a great initiative and should be welcomed by the community for two key reasons:
a) It has the potential to remove the requirement to name a pre-organised backup Registry Service.
b) It has the potential to reduce the level of financial guarantee to ICANN from applicants.
Other interesting points worthy of note from yesterday’s session:
• Communications Plan – This is being worked on by ICANN currently but won’t be rolled out until the Final Applicant Guidebook is approved, almost guaranteeing that the earliest date for applications will be March or April 2011
• DAGv4 Summary of Analysis – This won’t be released to the public until after the Board’s retreat, which is a surprise given that the public comment finished quite some time ago
• IDN ccTLD Fast Track – ICANN have 33 applicants, representing 22 languages, currently under review as this program continues to drive the expansion of the internet provide across the globe.
All in all, these small yet important pieces of information represent yet another positive step forward in the new gTLD process. I for one can’t wait to see what the next few months will bring.
Click here to see the presentations from the Tokyo meeting as provided by ICANN.