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.