Archive for the ‘ICANN’ Category

Navigating the .brand delegation process

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

Corey GrantBy Corey Grant
29 July 2015

This is the second post in a series from Corey Grant, Senior Industry Consultant at ARI Registry Services, about how .brand TLDs can get started and make the most of their TLDs. You can read the first part here.

Today marks a major milestone for .brand Top-Level Domain applicants, as we pass the deadline set by ICANN for them to sign their Registry Agreement (RA).

For those who have knuckled down over the last few weeks and months to meet this deadline, congratulations – for many, this was no mean feat and the effort should be acknowledged.

At the same time, organisations that have reached this point need to remember that putting pen to paper is the first step of many; in order to get your TLD to a stage where it can be used, there is a process that now begins that can be complex, at best.

So what’s involved in getting a TLD delegated – and how long will it reasonably be before brands can start using their new TLDs?

The path from RA signing to delegation

At ARI, we were the first Registry to navigate the complex path to TLD delegation, when we launched شبكة. (‘web’ in Arabic and pronounced “dot shabaka”) in October 2013 as the world’s first new TLD.

In many respects, we were helping write the delegation process for all applicants as شبكة. traversed the process. In fact, our progress was recorded through a journal on Domain Incite which allowed other TLD applicants to learn from our experiences.

Since then we’ve spent almost two years gaining more experience and partnering with other Registry Operators to help them through the delegation process. Based on our experiences as a Registry Services Provider over the last few years, we’ve drawn up a timeline of the typical delegation process as a guide, which you can view below.

No matter what your plans are for your .brand TLD, it makes sense to move through the delegation process as efficiently as possible. That way you will have the ability to use your TLD, whether you currently plan to or not. Plans change, and I’ve seen clients have commercial opportunities to use the TLD at short notice, but were unable to do so because they did not prioritise moving through stages of the delegation process.

In the table below, the ‘typical timeframe’ we’ve estimated is based on our own client experiences. The process can sound complicated, but your Registry Services Provider should assist you in moving through these requirements and be able to execute steps such as pre-delegation testing and delegation on your behalf.

Also bear in mind that ICANN will now have a significant workload to manage, with approximately 170 .brand TLDs likely to begin the delegation process following today’s deadline. Given this, there is the possibility of a backlog being created that could cause further delays for some applicants.

Delegation is only one part of the process. Running parallel to the delegation timeline is another, arguably more daunting timeline for the commercial steps that must be considered to get a TLD ready for operation.

While time pressure means the delegation process is the most urgent step right now, once this is set in motion it should proceed with little effort required. For .brand TLD owners, the bigger focus should be on beginning the commercial steps to launching and using your .brand TLD such as stakeholder engagement and developing an implementation plan – elements of which I’ll examine further in the coming weeks.

DelegationProcessTimeline

Will the fast-approaching deadline for .brands catch many by surprise?

Monday, April 20th, 2015

Tony KirschBy Corey Grant
21 April 2015

29 July 2015 is a big day for .brands. It’s the date when all ICANN Registry Agreements (RA) must be signed.

Once the RA is signed, the fees to ICANN and your Registry Services Provider kick in.

As certain as you can be that ICANN will begin sending invoices, you can also expect to receive increased scrutiny internally. Questions are inevitable.

People will want answers; what is the plan for this thing? How does it fit into our long term corporate goals? Do marketing have a plan to use the TLD in the upcoming launch of our new product?

Signing the RA by 29 July shouldn’t be your next step. Working backwards, by July you need a plan for the TLD. The plan might be to leave the TLD in a state where it can be used at short notice if needed, or it might be to establish a promotional site to support an upcoming campaign.

Either way, you need to develop a plan that enables you to address those inevitable questions, set expectations and manage internal stakeholders.

What .brands need to know

The addition of Specification 13 to the RA was a win for .brand applicants, recognising their unique status as brands. This also bought some time for those .brand applicants who were in no rush to proceed, with ICANN providing a nine month extension to the deadline when eligible .brand applicants must sign their RA.

By now, if you’re responsible for a .brand TLD you could be forgiven for putting things off for as long as possible in the hope that the whole process of taking control of the TLD becomes clearer and easier.

The good news is that it looks like ICANN isn’t going to alter the process of signing your RA and then getting delegated. At ARI Registry Services, we’ve helped many clients go through the process and it is all pretty easy now.

The not-so-easy part is explaining to the rest of your organisation how you will use your .brand TLD. This brings us back to that comfortable cruise into 29 July 2015.

How do you create a TLD plan?

You need to rally all of your senior stakeholders and workshop your options.

Bringing this group together not only helps you access a broad range of ideas and risks, but you also get buy-in from stakeholders right from the start. However, don’t under-estimate the challenge of organising this workshop.

You’ll need an executive level sponsor to buy into the workshop concept – after all, you’re taking a large number of senior personnel and locking them in a room for multiple days. Then you’ll need to convince each stakeholder to block out their calendar and attend.

If you weren’t already the internal evangelist for this .brand TLD, you need to become one right now. The future of your brand is digital and your .brand TLD is the future of your digital brand. It is a major investment for your organisation. It is also a new concept for almost everyone in your organisation and it’s difficult for them to get their heads around the scope of the impact and the opportunity.

Chicken and egg

Which comes first? It’s tough to spend time and resources on something when most people in your organisation don’t see the opportunity. But to gain buy-in, you need to start down the path of nailing down the strategy and having a plan you can refer to.

The good news is that the benefits of having a .brand TLD – like increased messaging recall and customer engagement, freedom of domain name choice, digital brand authority and trademark protection – make a compelling story when applied to your brand. .

More than 40 percent of the Fortune 100 applied for a .brand TLD, and those brands without a TLD will be at distinct disadvantage in their digital marketing strategy very soon.

Is a workshop and the resulting plan all you need to do to launch your .brand TLD? Unfortunately not, you’ll eventually need a full strategy, project plan, policy framework, risk assessment, budget, and resources to launch and operate the TLD. But for now, the workshop is the next step.

My advice to .brand operators is to get moving now and have a plan – or at least a path to create a plan – by the July deadline.

Who are the true multi-stakeholders in ICANN?

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

By Donna Austin

Adrian Kinderis

During ICANN Durban, I attended the ccNSO 10 year anniversary celebrations.

ICANN Chairman, Dr Steve Crocker, was on hand to congratulate the ccNSO on their 10 years and revered them as the “true multi-stakeholders in ICANN”.

Post Durban, I was reviewing notes and I came across a similar statement made during a ccNSO session that ccTLDs “represent the best functioning multi-stakeholder model” in the ICANN ecosystem.

Is this entirely accurate? Is the ccNSO really the golden child of ICANN’s multi-stakeholder model?

While there is no doubt that the ccNSO has been instrumental in influencing policy development and championing change for their cause, are they really ICANN’s “true multi-stakeholders”?

Let’s recap

When I first started attending ICANN meetings back in 2001 representing the Australian Government as the coordinator of the GAC, ccTLDs were pretty much sitting outside the tent. There was considerable distrust between the ccTLD community and ICANN at the time and regular meetings between the ccTLD operators and the GAC could be rather frosty events.

In 2005, when I joined ICANN staff as policy support for the ccNSO, relationships were slowly mending and both the ccTLDs and ICANN were recognising the mutual benefits of having ccTLD operators inside the ICANN tent.

So against this background, it is a tremendous achievement that the ccNSO is now well-established and an important contributor in the ICANN community.

However, the ccNSO has a stronger focus on collaboration, information sharing and best practice adoption, rather than a true aspiration for the Policy Development Process (PDP) that underpins a multi-stakeholder model. This is in large part because the participation of a ccTLD registry operator in the ccNSO and ICANN – and adoption of any policies that might be developed – is on a ‘voluntary’ basis.

ccTLDs are not bound by ICANN consensus policies and operate largely unfettered without interference from ICANN.

I don’t deny that within their respective countries or territories ccTLDs engage in multi-stakeholder style consultations and policy undertakings, but I do not agree that they are the ‘true multi-stakeholders in ICANN’.

While the ccNSO thoroughly deserves plaudits on a highly successful 10 years, I question whether they are the preeminent representation of the multi-stakeholder model.

The GNSO

Instead of the ccNSO, I would argue that the GNSO is the prime example of the multi-stakeholder model operating at its full capacity. It might at times look like a dog fight, but that’s the beauty of the model.

The GNSO has a long history of undertaking policy development processes and perhaps the most contentious and the one that still lingers is the PDP that recommended the introduction of new gTLDs.

I used to think it was inappropriate for those that stood to benefit from the new gTLD process to be involved in the policy development process that recommended the introduction of new gTLDs. But what I’ve come to appreciate and understand is that the only way for the ICANN experiment to succeed – at least in the short term – was to ensure that those who had a dog in the fight were involved in the process.

The development of the new gTLD program has been the process – while often times messy – that has led in large part to the maturation of ICANN and the expansion of the GNSO into a more diverse and dynamic set of interest groups. The process has also brought considerably more interplay across ICANN’s structure of supporting organisations, advisory committees, the ICANN Board and staff.

As ICANN contracted parties, there is also much more at stake for the gTLD registries in these PDPs as the outcomes will have some impact on their business. All gTLD registry operators sign contracts with ICANN acknowledging that they will be bound not only by consensus policies that exist at the time of signing the agreement, but any consensus policies approved at a later date.

So it’s understandable that some of the policy debates that take place within the GNSO are very robust, hard fought and lengthy. Finding consensus in such an environment should be applauded and exalted by ICANN and time should be taken by those new to ICANN to understand and appreciate the machinations of the process.

The GNSO should be ICANN’s flagship. It is the central policy organ that is so important to the bottom-up, consensus driven, multi-stakeholder model that is ICANN.

As Jonathan Robinson, Chair of the GNSO Council, noted prior to Durban:

“… ICANN’s multi-stakeholder model is complex, dynamic and necessarily evolving.”

Those of us that have been engaged in this community for a long time will understand the multi-facets of the SOs and ACs that collectively are the “true multi-stakeholders in ICANN”.

After 12 years of following this circus, I am finally starting to get it.

By Donna Austin
Policy and Industry Affairs Officer
ARI Registry Services

First insights from the GAC Early Warnings on new Top-Level Domains

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

By Yasmin Omer

Today, the national governments that constitute ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) for the first time publicly voiced their concerns over specific new Top-Level Domain (TLD) applications in the form of Early Warnings.

More than 240 individual GAC Early Warnings were issued in relation to 200 new TLD applications which account for 162 unique strings.

By far the most prolific government to issue GAC Early Warnings was the Australian government with 129. This was followed by Germany with 20 and France 19.

As expected, a large number of the 240 Early Warnings related to closed generic string TLD applications (100 Early Warnings). It appears a number of governments are concerned about brands or entrepreneurs owning a specific generic word and closing the door on public registrations in these namespaces.

Early Warnings were also issued for strings that are linked to regulated market sectors, such as the financial, health and charity sectors.

The continent with the most Early Warnings was Asia Pacific (154), followed by Europe (51) and Africa (30). This is in stark contrast to the distribution of new TLD applications across the globe which saw more than 80% of applicants come from North America and Europe.

Other interesting insights include:

• Amazon (an applicant for 76 new TLDs) has received 27 GAC Early Warnings
• Google (an applicant for 98 new TLDs) has received only 5 GAC Early Warnings
• 19 IDN new TLD applications received a GAC Early Warning
• DotConnectAfrica’s application for .africa received 17 Early Warnings. UniForum SA’s application for .africa received no Early Warnings.
• Despite being very vocal regarding their objections to certain strings, Saudi Arabia cannot participate in the Early Warning process as they are not a member of the GAC.

Below is an image which provides an overview of the distribution of GAC Early Warnings.

A GAC Early Warning is a mechanism by which the national government representatives who comprise the GAC can signal their potential concerns with specific new TLD applications that are controversial or sensitive. Receipt of a GAC Early Warning allows an applicant to be eligible to receive an 80% refund of their application fee.

Many Early Warnings offer remediation steps to be taken by the applicant which may appease any concerns the governments have. However, applicants are not obliged to take any action.

GAC Early Warnings are a pathway to formal GAC Advice to the ICANN Board in April 2013 following ICANN Beijing. GAC Advice requires consensus of the GAC and may indicate that a particular application should not proceed which almost certainly means an application will not be approved by ICANN. The biggest question moving forward will be how exactly consensus will be reached.  Watch this space!

While many applicants were nervously anticipating the announcement of today’s Early Warnings, the majority of applicants will be pleased with the results. Next hurdle: GAC Advice in April 2013.

By Yasmin Omer
Policy and Industry Affairs Officer at ARI Registry Services

NOTE: Every effort has been made to accurately report the statistics in this blog. However, some statistics may need to be updated with further analysis

Groundswell must continue to oppose greater internet control

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

In a special opinion piece article first published in the Sydney Morning Herald (23 Oct 2012), Adrian Kinderis, CEO of ARI Registry Services, provides his thoughts on Internet governance, ICANN and the ITU.

Earlier this month I joined federal senators, industry leaders, government advisors, stakeholder groups and concerned citizens in Canberra for Australia’s inaugural Internet Governance Forum (auIGF) to help shape the future of the internet in Australia.

On the agenda were a number of important panel discussions from cyber security to privacy and digital inclusion.

However, there was one topic above all others that captured my attention: the discussion about the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) move to seek greater controls over the internet.

The ITU, a United Nations agency, will hear proposals to overhaul the regulations governing the internet at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) being held in Dubai in December.

The 11-day conference will host the rewriting of the international telecommunication regulations that govern the world’s telecommunications traffic. On the agenda is reworking the system of internet controls.

Countries such as Russia have called for restrictions over the internet where it is used to interfere in the internal affairs of a state. Opponents have claimed this represents a dramatic threat to the openness of the internet, where countries could regulate content not just within their own borders but globally.

Supporters are calling for a change from the current multi-stakeholder governance model, under the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), to a government-control model.

The ITU’s internet power grab

Although a number of governments and industry groups have voiced strong opposition to any move to give the ITU more authority over the internet, this is not guaranteed. Efforts must continue to protect the digital economy and our current internet freedoms.

In her opening address  to the auIGF, the Minister Assisting for Industry and Innovation, Senator Kate Lundy, spoke about the Australian government’s strong support of the ICANN model.

“The ITU does not need to take on the role of governing the internet. It has its own contribution to make, one which is valuable and which should not be changed,” Senator Lundy said. “We need the work that both ICANN and the ITU do. Each of these bodies should play to their own strengths and not seek to encroach on the responsibilities of others.”

Australia is not alone in taking this stance. In August, the US State Department submitted its initial proposals for the WCIT calling for a continuation of the current ICANN framework.

In May, a US bipartisan House committee resolution – H. Con. Res. 127  – argued the internet should be free of international regulation.

“Given the importance of the internet to the global economy, it is essential that the internet remain stable, secure and free from government control … The structure of internet governance has profound implications for competition and trade, democratisation, free expression and access to information … Countries have obligations to protect human rights, which are advanced by online activity as well as offline,” the House resolution said.

There’s been no shortage of people lining up to criticise the ITU over its proposals. The US Chamber of Commerce, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the Software and Information Industry Association and the Information Technology Industry Council, among others, have all expressed concern over the ITU’s moves.

Who can govern the Internet? ICANN

The US-based non-profit group ICANN manages the internet’s addressing system through a transparent, multi-stakeholder model.

The beauty of the current model is it promotes participation and input from end users all the way through to governments. This open, inclusive model has made the internet a successful driver of social and economic growth.
Research published by McKinsey last year on the economies of the G-8 nations found the internet contributes 3.4 per cent to GDP. It recommended public-sector leaders ought to promote broad access to the internet since usage, quality of infrastructure and online expenditure are correlated with higher growth in per capita GDP.

The lessons learnt from the McKinsey research suggest governments should support policies which encourage greater use of the internet to boost economic development – a move that is in contrast to proposals already put forth for the ITU’s December conference.

There is a threat that the ITU will bring a “closed approach” to internet governance which would exclude participation from the private sector and end users. Given its importance to the global economy, it is essential the internet remains stable, secure and free from overzealous government control.

I’m confident the groundswell of opposition will be effective in defeating the ITU’s proposals. I have faith that common sense will prevail.

Forums such as ICANN and the auIGF are crucial in advancing and promoting the transparent, bottom-up, consensus-driven internet we have today.

Let’s continue to innovate and drive progress, rather than restrict and undo all this good work.

Adrian Kinderis is CEO of ARI Registry Services, an international domain name technology infrastructure company. He joined industry experts from Google, auDA, APNIC and Internet NZ on a special panel at the auIGF to examine internet governance.

This article first appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on Tuesday 23 October 2012.

TAS reopens & ICANN provides more clarity for new TLD applicants

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

By Tony Kirsch

Following more than a month of delays with the TAS interruption in the new Top-Level Domain program, this week has seen ICANN take some positive steps to restore confidence in the program and we can now see a glimmer of light at the end of a long tunnel.

It all started when ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom broke the news yesterday that the TAS had reopened early and the issues behind the notorious “glitch” had been resolved.

The early reopening of the TAS – which was scheduled to open later that day at 19:00 UTC 22 May 2012 – demonstrates that ICANN understands the need to progress forward with the program as quickly as possible.

In another show of confidence, ICANN held a Twitter chat session this morning (19:30 UTC 22 May 2012) during which CEO Rod Beckstrom and his staff answered questions about the new TLD program and the issues with the TAS.

The key topics of discussion focused on when ICANN plans to host its reveal day, when the Digital Archery application batching system will open, and when the batches will be confirmed.

Below is a summary of key insights gained from the discussion:

• Digital Archery is scheduled to open before reveal day, remain open for approximately three weeks, and close after reveal day. ICANN will publish batches after the reveal day and after the digital archery process is complete
• An update on the new timeline will be published within four business days and will include the targeted reveal date (due by 29 May 2012).
• ICANN confirmed it is targeting to hold reveal date before the ICANN Prague meeting scheduled for 24 to 29 June 2012.

A transcript of the ICANN Twitter chat session can be found here.

All in all, this week has been one of progress for applicants in the new TLD program and we have gained some insight that has been sorely missing in recent times. From the information gleaned in the Twitter chat, we can now guess that:

• Digital Archery will commence mid June – possibly in the week commencing 18 June
• ICANN’s  reveal day could occur by the end of the week commencing 18 June
• Digital Archery will possibly close in the first week of July

We’ll have a much better idea of these milestone dates in the next few days as ICANN has committed to providing an update on the new timeline by 29 May 2012.

After weeks of uncertainty, it is pleasing to see ICANN making progress in the right direction.

By Tony Kirsch
Senior Manager – International Business Development

New TLD Applicants: Read this before selecting a Registry provider

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

By Adrian Kinderis

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former,”
Albert Einstein.

Today, the clock ticked down to 85 days until commencement of the new Top-Level Domain application window. Finally, after years of educating, pitching and responding to RFPs, we have reached a period where prospective applicants must either choose to develop their Top-Level Domain Registry themselves or choose their Registry Services Partner (RSP). For most folks, unless they share a level of expertise, this will mean choosing an outsourced RSP, like ARI Registry Services.

As each day passes, I spend more time immersing myself with prospective clients who are weighing up the ARI offering over those of alternative providers. The more I become entrenched in this competitive process, the more it becomes increasingly clear that many of the competing RSPs pitching their wares to hopeful applicants are misleading them by hiding critically important information in fine print disclaimers or feeding them rubbish in order to whittle down the competition. Competition is a great thing; it just needs to be on the same playing field. Make sure you are comparing apples with apples.

Here is a bit of advice for anyone wishing to outsource their RSP. Yes, it is a little self-serving but my company has always prided itself on doing what is right for the customer – even if that means we have to pass on some along the way.

1. You do not have to choose an existing gTLD Registry provider. ICANN gives you no more extra points. This is ugly propaganda that serves only to limit competition. The rules and requirements in the round of applications are such that we ALL have to build new requirements and features to our Registry systems. It is a new Registry to everyone so to say that doing it now in a gTLD space gives you an advantage is rubbish. ICANN wrote the rules to make it possible to do it yourself and it’s not rocket science. It is tricky, but it simply isn’t impossible. If you are not into doing it yourself, you are able to outsource the headache. Of course it makes sense to outsource to someone that has run an EPP Registry before, but the existing gTLD Registries are vastly different. I love that existing Registries forget they were new once. Imagine if Verisign came out and said it couldn’t be done when ICANN was handing out .info and .biz. Somehow Afilias and Neustar were able to build a gTLD Registry then, but yet these are the Registries that now tell us that none of us are capable now? Hmmmm…. Oh and don’t forget whatever Registry you bring them, they have an invested interest to support their own ahead of yours (unless you are giving them $6 a pop per domain, in which case you are getting ripped off!)

2. Your Application to ICANN is the most important thing to you right now. Make sure you choose a RSP that is going to do a stellar job with the technical answers. Ask to see the technical responses for the application upfront. Make sure they give you complete answers to questions 23 through 44, and have draft answers ready for you to customize for questions 15, 16 and 22. Get specific deliverables sorted upfront!

3. Read the fine print of your quotation. A one line quotation for Registry services may look easy to handle but it is fraught with danger. Especially once you are ready to go live and find out that many of the basic services weren’t covered and you think to yourself “no wonder these guys were so cheap.” It is simple; ensure that a “no further costs” clause is added to your contract.  Read the fine print and make sure everything you need is in there. Including the ability to move and change later. You are all start ups and times will get tough at some point.

4. Make sure you are signing with someone that shares your entrepreneurial spirit. I’ve already said it; you are building a business here. You are an entrepreneur. Make sure that your RSP is able to support you and understand your needs going forward. Ask the sales guy you are talking to how many businesses he has started. Ask the CEO of the firm the same question – if, of course, he/she even talks to you. Ask yourselves how many of these guys will be around to support you when times are tough (or will they already be working for a competitor!). Don’t screw this up.

5. Go Live is the NEXT important thing for you. How is your RSP going to support you? How are they going to support you and all the other applicants they have? Are they focused on your business? You don’t want to be all of their business so you can get the benefits of economies of scale, but you don’t want to be a tiny cog in a big wheel. How many phone calls and how much support will you get once that contract is signed?

6. Pricing is, of course, important, but you must know, IT ISN’T EVERYTHING. You don’t choose the cheapest lawyer, doctor or accountant for a reason. Why wouldn’t the same logic apply here? The process is simple. Do your homework, and get an understanding of your expected volumes. This will tell you what price you need from your RSP. Then look to other variables, many of which I have mentioned above to determine the best provider for you. Is it flexibility, payment terms, technology, redundancy etc? Reach out to me and I’ll be sure to give you a check list of items outside of pricing to make sure you consider them. Once again it is the apples versus apples scenario.

There is no secret to ARI Registry Services’ success. We keep it simple. We look after our customers which are why they are all repeat customers. We are working with companies big and small, governments and non profits. We work hard for all of them but ultimately, we don’t sell crap. We tell the truth and we disclose everything – as I said, simple. Make sure your provider is going to do the same.

I wish you well as you embark on this exciting journey. If you choose someone else other than my firm in your selection process, good for you. If the tips above have helped ensure you are better in the long run, then that’s great too. I look forward to sharing a drink with you in a few years when we can look back on this exciting time, relishing our collective successes and reviewing our failures (of which I hope there are few).

Remember, choosing a Registry Services Provider is the biggest decision you will make in the life of your TLD. The provider you select now will play a critical role in not only the success of your application to ICANN, but the ongoing security, stability and integrity of your new Top-Level Domain.

So applicants, I beg you. Beware of the fine print and ensure you compare those apples. The success or failure of your TLD is at stake.

By Adrian Kinderis, CEO of ARI Registry Services

Munich’s new domains conference reveals urgency to act now

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

By Michael Twist

Whoever said there wasn’t enough room in Munich this time of year for anything but the mighty Oktoberfest clearly underestimated the draw of the new Top-Level Domain Program and the interest within Europe.

The NewDomains.org conference held in Munich over the past two days confirmed three important insights for me; one: there is a large audience of brands and entrepreneurs who still have little awareness about the new Top-Level Domain program; two: those that are aware of the program and would like to participate are seriously behind schedule in preparing their application and strategy to submit to ICANN during the application window from 12 January to 12 April 2012.

The third insight was the excitement generated from our announcement regarding AusRegistry International’s appointment to operate the registry for the .jewelers new Top-Level Domain. Having spent a great deal of time on this project, it was very rewarding to be able to share the news at the NewDomains.org conference and I was pleased with the positive feedback I received from many of the attendees.

As with most conferences within the domain name industry, the usual suspects attended; the registries, the registrars, the ‘ICANN crew’ and the plethora of industry experts and consultants. However, I’m happy to report there is genuine interest from the European community about the upcoming Internet revolution and they came out with great interest for the first new Top-Level Domain conference in Europe.

While the crowd was not made up of a lot of potential applicants (as a lot of the exhibitors would have liked), there was a very noticeable presence from the intellectual property and trademark community eager to find out about the program and its implications to their corporate clients.

The two day agenda ran very smoothly and kudos should be given to United Domains who were in charge as it was truly run with German efficiency. There was also a good ICANN contingent with the presence of ICANN Chairman Dr Stephen Crocker, ICANN’s Senior VP of the new TLD program Kurt Pritz, as well as the very knowledgeable Olof Nordling, ICANN’s Director of Service Relations.

Although there were few answers to the unresolved detail of the Applicant Guidebook, it was good to see the questions asked of ICANN and a necessary cohesion with the questions being asked.

One important topic that was addressed came from Kurt Pritz’s presentation and side discussion about how ICANN intends to process the applications it receives during the application window. This is a critical issue for applicants because ICANN has previously said it may process the applications in batches, meaning that some applicants may have their applications sitting idle while others could be delegated are ready to go live.

Although Mr Pritz confirmed that ICANN is yet to come to a firm conclusion on how it will process applications, he did say they may be batched in groups of around 500 and that these may be prioritised based on the objective of the application.

I for one support this approach and believe priority and preferential treatment should be given to applicants who have business plans that demonstrate they will use their string immediately.

Other important topics discussed included:

•    Financial Letter of Credit – how much and when?
•    How exactly will the initial evaluation tackle string similarity and other concerns?
•    Community – how and who?
•    The TAS – what does it look like and when will we see it?

Although the ICANN community does not have any solid answers to these questions just yet, we hope to have these addressed soon as we edge closer to the opening of the application window in January.

All in all it was great to see a good turnout and genuine interest. However, it is also fair to say that it is concerning how far behind the eight ball a lot of the attendees are and it begs the question: Will they make it in time?

My advice to those sitting on the sidelines is: You must get moving now or miss the boat! There are only 105 days until the application window opens and you will need all that time to get your new Top-Level Domain application and strategy ready.

By Michael Twist, Top-Level Domain specialist with AusRegistry International

Updated Applicant Guidebook provides more clarity for applicants

Monday, September 26th, 2011

By Tony Kirsch

With less than 110 days to go until the application window opens, ICANN last week released the latest update of the Applicant Guidebook in conjunction with the launch of a new information portal for the new Top-Level Domain program.

Although this latest update to the Applicant Guidebook arrived later than originally expected, it is nonetheless welcome because it provides more clarity for potential applicants and reconfirms ICANN’s commitment to the 12 January commencement of the program.

Credit must be given where it’s due.

First of all, the new microsite looks great and contains all the information necessary for those unfamiliar with the new Top-Level Domain Program to get a basic understanding. Through a number of areas on the site, ICANN provides a decent summary of the hundreds of pages of industry jargon contained in the Applicant Guidebook.

By the way, make sure to check out AusRegistry International’s microsite, Beyondcom.info.
Also, the latest update to the Applicant Guidebook is relatively straight forward with no problematic inclusions or hidden surprises.

Below is my summary of the changes that are of interest:

More blocked strings – ICANN has added the measures required to address specific requests from the Red Cross and International Olympic Committee in which a series of TLDs related to these organisations will be blocked during the initial application round.

Assistance for applicants – ICANN confirmed that the Joint Applicant Support (JAS) Working Group continues to evaluate the processes for providing assistance to disadvantaged applicants. Indications are that the results of this Working Group are expected on this in the coming weeks.

Uniform Rapid Suspension System (URS) Response Fee Limits – In an adjustment to the previous version of the guidebook, ICANN has now modified the “loser pays” provision in the URS to apply to complaints involving 15 (instead of 26) or more domain names with the same registrant.

GAC Early Warning and Advice – The GAC has expressed the intention to develop a standard vocabulary and set of rules for use in providing its advice about applications for new Top-Level Domains. ICANN says this will be published in the future and there may be additional updates to reflect the terms established by the GAC.

Application window clarification – One of the more important updates relates to clarification of the User Registration and Application Submission timeframes which were confirmed to be that:

Users must register to apply within the following dates:

Opens – 00:01 UTC 12 January 2012
Closes –  23:59 UTC 29 March 2012

Once registered to apply, users must then submit their application to ICANN’s online system within the following dates:

Opens – 00:01 UTC 12 January 2012
Closes – 23:59 UTC 12 April 2012

The release of this updated version of the Applicant Guidebook is a huge step forward for ICANN and the program itself and relieves some of the scuttlebutt from within the industry that further delays may have been imminent.

It’s certainly a welcome relief for industry participants such as our organisation and the many applicants across the globe who have been diligently preparing for this (in some cases for many years). These two announcements from ICANN provide more clarity for potential applicants and remind us all that new Top-Level Domains are coming and they are coming fast.

Perhaps most importantly, at the bottom right-hand corner of the new microsite, ICANN provides the most important element of the program – something that all of us in the industry have been waiting for a very long time: “ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS IN 108 DAYS”

Throughout this process, many within the industry have been keeping sane by constantly reminding ourselves that “it will happen, and it will be worth it”.

Now it would appear that this time is only just around the corner.

In reality the application window will really just be the start of it all, and in years to come, those who have fought this journey will reflect on this time with fond memories of a time that represented both challenges and tremendous achievement.

Tony Kirsch, Top-Level Domain name specialist with AusRegistry International

Top 5 tips for new Top-Level Domain applicants

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

By Michael Twist

So, you’ve heard about ICANN’s new Top-Level Domain (TLD) Program and you’re thinking about the best way to get involved so you can gain a slice of the of the $5 billion dollar domain name industry.

You might be an entrepreneur out to make your next million, a brand looking to make a statement of leadership in the digital space, a city keen to deliver a clear digital identity online or maybe something cool I’ve never even heard of!

Regardless of your intention, what you might be missing is a real insight into the ways in which you can activate the new Top-Level Domain opportunity to introduce a business never before seen in the domain name space.

As someone who has been following the program closely for a few years now, below are five key tips that will hopefully get your brain working in overdrive:

1. Act now: The clock is ticking on this limited opportunity. The application window will open on 12 January and we’ll start to see new Top-Level Domains in operation from 2013. If companies and entrepreneurs miss the application window (12 January 2012 to 12 April 2012), it may be a long time before they have the same opportunity again. Get moving now to make sure you don’t miss the boat. There is less than 176 days until the application window opens and you’ll need all of that time to make sure your approach is on the money.

2. Think different: This opportunity isn’t all about trying to be the next .com. The real value lies within the formation of market or vertical centric generic TLDs that will offer value to a specific target audience. Let’s take a .music TLD as an example of a generic Top-Level Domain that could be launched specifically for the music industry. Such a namespace is not intended to be a competitor to .com, however it will still hold significant value to the music industry given it will be directly tied to the subject matter as well as the global music community. The logical step regarding perceived value is the opportunity to demand a higher price per domain, driving profit up even if overall registration volumes don’t break world records.

So think very carefully about your audience, as I firmly believe that the most successful new Top-Level Domain applicants will be those that are able to identify a consumer group that is willing to pay more per domain for the privilege of an authoritative, trusted and relevant domain name. In this game, an audience of “everyone” is a very risky move to make.

3. Commercialise your .brand TLD: .brand TLDs don’t just have to be an online branding exercise to improve message recall and online efficiency. There are huge opportunities available for .brand applicants to activate the namespace and drive return on investment. Imagine eBay securing .eBay and selling a slice of that space to its audience of 94 million registered users at two dollars per vanity domain name fee? Think michaeltwist.ebay and you’ve got the basis of a solid revenue generation model.

4. No language barrier: For the first time in history, new Top-Level Domains are available in non-Latin scripts and with 60% of the world’s population residing in countries where the native language is based on a script other than Latin, you could be one of the first to capitalise on this latest shift in domain name technology. Imagine what the Chinese equivalent for .com could be worth to the thriving Chinese community?

5. Seek advice: The new Top-Level Domain program is not for the novice – there are few people who can run a slice of the Internet alone – so start with the idea and seek advice from an industry expert who understands the application process, policy and technological infrastructure required to make the most of the new Top-Level Domain opportunity.

The five tips explained above are just a starting point for a much larger analysis of your idea and associated business case.

At AusRegistry International, we are currently working with brands, entrepreneurs and governments across the world in a full service capacity that can cover your entire new Top-Level Domain project from strategy right through to technology and launch marketing services.

Please feel free to drop me a line if you’re after some advice on how you can make the most of this revolutionary opportunity. Also, be sure to read a blog we wrote last month explaining why choosing a domain name registry services partner for your new Top-Level Domain is the most important decision you will make from here on in.

For more information please visit www.ausregistry.com or find out more about the new Top-Level Domain program here: www.BeyondDotCom.info

By Michael Twist, Top-Level Domain specialist with AusRegistry International