Archive for the ‘IDNs’ Category

New TLD registry service providers are not created equal

Monday, June 27th, 2011

Adrian Kinderis, CEO of AusRegistry International, explains why choosing a registry services partner is the most important decision applicants will make.

By Adrian Kinderis

The ICANN Singapore meeting last week was all about certainty. The official approval of the new Top-Level Domain program and the delivery of an application timeline by the ICANN Board has provided the certainty we have all been eagerly waiting for.

What I can also be certain about is that potential applicants are now desperately trying to finalise their new Top-Level Domain strategies. To those applicants, I have one very important message:

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.

As such, I think it is also important for potential applicants to understand that not all registry services providers are created equal. There are several key criteria for differentiation that can help potential applicants decipher all the spin and make an informed decision.

Below is my summary of the criteria I believe are critical for your choice in registry services partner.

1) Experience – Your chosen partner must have long-term experience in developing, growing and operating a current, high volume namespace. In this game, experience counts for everything.

2) Financial Security – Financial security ensures long term viability of your provider. This means that your registry services partner will be around for as long as your TLD needs them to be.

3) Flexibility – Your solution must be built for the specific requirements of your new TLD. Flexibility from your registry services partner will ensure you aren’t restricted by technical capability.

4) Focus – Are new TLDs a primary focus of the business? They should be…

5) Diverse Expertise – Navigating the TLD minefield is no easy task. To ensure success, you’ll need a combination of dedicated industry consultants, knowledgeable technical resources and sales & marketing experts to meet ICANN’s stringent requirements. Great registry services require an equal balance of brain power and technology.

6) Commitment – Ask prospective partners how much of their own time has been invested understanding the intricate details of the Applicant Guidebook and ICANN’s processes. Have they been an advocate and influencer of the program since its inception? Are they committed to the success of this revolutionary program?

7) Price – Extremely low per domain pricing structures may seem like a good idea in theory, however  you must question the ability for that entity to manage a registry well and, importantly, support your ongoing business long-term. If your partner is hamstrung because they have over committed on pricing, you may experience some challenges long-term.

What you are looking for is a service provider that can positively cover off all these points at a consistently high level. What you want to avoid is a provider that may excel at one point to the detriment of another.

There is only six months until the 12 January 2012 application window opens and the time to act is now. I’ve provided you with all the information you need to make the right decisions about your new Top-Level Domain. There is just one more piece of information I forgot to include: info@ausregistry.com.

Drop my team a line one day to see how we stack up.

Russia’s Cyrillic IDN ccTLD blasts off through the 500K mark in under a week

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

By Jon Lawrence

Since last Thursday’s launch of Russia’s Cyrillic script IDN ccTLD, registration volumes have smashed all expectations, much like a Soyuz rocket blasting off into space from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

At the time of writing (14:00 17/11/2010 UTC), .рф, which is Cyrillic for RF (short for Российская Федерация – Russian Federation) has just exceeded 500,000 registrations, having passed the 100,000 mark in the first three hours. It is already among the top 30 ccTLDs worldwide and heading towards the top 20 at high speed. Andrei Kolesnikov, Director of ccTLD.ru, the organisation that manages both .рф and Russia’s ASCII script .ru ccTLD, said last week that he expected there would be ‘as many as 100,000’ domains registered in .рф by the end of 2010. Clearly, he was somewhat conservative with this projection! Less than two months after .ru joined the 3 million club, it is far from idle speculation to now start thinking about when .рф will overtake its older sibling.

It is also worth considering that the other recent TLD launch that has attracted significant registration volumes – the launch of second-level registrations under Colombia’s .co – took two months to hit the half million mark. .рф managed that feat in only six days.

Registrations in .рф are restricted to Russian citizens and Russian-registered businesses and are priced at the same level as for .ru. RU Center – the largest Registrar in Russia – are selling both .ru and .рф for 600 Rubles, a shade under US$20.00 at current exchange rates. There are a total of 26 registrars currently accredited for .рф. The .рф string was selected in preference to a direct transliteration of ‘RU’ which would be ‘PY’ in Cyrillic, due to potential visual conflict with Paraguay’s existing .py ASCII script ccTLD.

According to ccTLD.ru, the most popular letters in the addresses registered in the first hour were ы and я — Cyrillic characters with no equivalent in the Roman script. Clearly, the demand for domain names including these characters has been building since the internet became an everyday phenomenon in Russia.

Even if we assume that a large proportion of registrations are speculative at this early stage, the launch of .рф cannot be regarded as anything but a huge success. This success proves that there is real community demand for native script Top-Level Domains, and bodes well for the prospects of other IDN Top-Level Domains, in both the ccTLD and gTLD contexts. It can also been seen as a vindication of the ICANN Board’s decision to proceed with the IDN ccTLD program on a ‘Fast Track’, ahead of the finalisation of the new gTLD program, due to a perception of strong demand, particularly from the Russian and Chinese language communities. The reality of that demand has now been conclusively established.

As Milton Mueller pointed out back in 2007, the Fast Track program has created an opportunity for IDN ccTLDs to establish themselves in the market before the introduction of a wave of new gTLDs, which will likely include dozens, if not hundreds of IDN gTLDs covering dozens of scripts.

We look forward with eager anticipation to the launch of other IDN ccTLDs, including Qatar’s قطر. which was recently approved for delegation by the ICANN Board. To date, ICANN have approved 34 IDN ccTLD strings, from 21 countries and covering 13 different scripts. 15 of these 34 strings have been delegated into the root. See ICANN’s String Evaluation Completion page for the full list.

AusRegistry International is the Domain Name Registry Software and Services provider for the United Arab Emirates’ .ae and امارات. (.emarat) ccTLDs and for Qatar’s .qa and قطر. (.qatar) ccTLDs.

One Billion Internet Users

Monday, July 12th, 2010

By Jon Lawrence

Last week ICANN took another very significant step forward in the expansion of the internet by approving the delegation of a number of Chinese script IDN ccTLDs.

Although we have all heard statements that portray the introduction of IDN ccTLDs as being perhaps the single most important factor in the achievement of ICANN’s “One World, One Internet” vision, we should take a moment to appreciate the true significance of this latest round of IDN ccTLD approvals.

There are over one billion people in the Chinese language community, an audience that until last week required some knowledge of the Latin alphabet to navigate the internet using the Domain Name System. Even with a basic grasp of the Latin alphabet, the painful usability issue of having to switch between Chinese and Latin keyboard layouts has been a significant barrier for many end-users.

chinese add

The significance of introducing IDN ccTLDs into the Chinese language context is not just about improving accessibility, however.

We should spare a thought for the marketing managers who are tasked with communicating to an audience of over a billion Chinese consumers.

At first glance it seems like a brilliant opportunity, however it becomes a little tougher once you consider the following…

You’re running a traditional advertising campaign. You have the right brand, you’ve developed the right message and you finally have people reading and wanting to respond to your ads. All that’s required from here is the ability to drive website traffic directly from your advertisement, but you only have a Latin-based Domain Name at your disposal.

What do you think your chances of success are if your audience is unable to understand what your Latin-based domain name is?

Very little, next to none, even. In this context, the big bad (and expensive) world of search engine marketing is your only fall-back.

While I don’t profess to be fluent in Chinese, the advertisement I have included above is an example of how difficult it currently is for Chinese marketers to generate effective direct response advertising and achieve messaging efficiency.

The latest round of IDN ccTLD delegations will change all of this and change it in a big way.

Once Chinese IDN ccTLDs are introduced, more consumers will be drawn to the internet as language and usability barriers are removed. Internet penetration should accelerate and marketers will find themselves operating in a world where the doors of direct-response marketing will be flung wide open. Message recall and direct, browser-based website traffic should improve dramatically and Chinese marketers will finally be able to include a website as the primary call to action with a high level of confidence that it will succeed.

When you consider these points in the context of the sheer size of the Chinese language market, it’s easy to see the importance of this latest list of delegations to the overall success of the IDN Fast Track program.

Both China and Taiwan have had Simplified and Traditional script versions of their IDN ccTLDs approved. These are to be managed as ‘Synchronised IDN ccTLDs’, which means that both versions should resolve to the same address.

Hong Kong is spared this additional level of complexity by the simple fact that ‘Hong Kong’ is written using the same characters in both script versions. Domain names registered under .香港 will be issued both Traditional and Simplified variants, however.

The Chinese IDN ccTLDs that will soon be delegated into the root are therefore as follows:

China
.中国 (Simplified)
.中國 (Traditional)

Hong Kong
.香港

TWNIC
.台湾 (Simplified)
.台灣 (Traditional)

Recently, IANA also announced that three further IDN ccTLDs have passed the String Evaluation Phase. These are:

سوريا. (.syria – Arabic)

.新加坡 (.singapore – Chinese)
.சிங்கப்பூர் (.singapore – Tamil)

We would like to congratulate CNNIC, TWNIC and HKIRC on having their Chinese IDN ccTLD delegations approved. We would also like to congratulate SGNIC and Syria’s National Agency for Network Services on passing the String Evaluation Phase.

AusRegistry International is a strong supporter of the IDN ccTLD Fast Track Program and is a leading provider of IDN-enabled Domain Name Registry Software and Consulting Services to ccTLD Managers. We are currently supporting the launch of the Arabic script امارات. (.emarat) IDN ccTLD for the United Arab Emirates as well as the قطر. (.qatar) Arabic script IDN ccTLD for Qatar.

ICANN may not be perfect, but it is working

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

by Adrian Kinderis

Though I have been critical of some of ICANN’s shortcomings, I remain a strong supporter of ICANN’s role as a private sector-led, multi-stakeholder global regulator for the Internet’s core addressing systems.

My recent blog post about my concerns with the communications processes relating to the addition of the first Arabic script IDN ccTLDs has been quoted in an ITU Staff Paper prepared for the ITU Council Working Group on the World Summit on the Information Society, to be held in Geneva tomorrow.

This document seems to suggest that my criticism was based on the fact that the delegation of Russia’s .рф IDN ccTLD did not occur at the same time as the three Arabic script IDN ccTLDs.

That was not my point at all.

The delegation of .рф involved co-ordination between IANA and Russian stakeholders to ensure that it occurred during the Russian Internet Governance Forum, held in Moscow from 12th-14th May.  My criticism of IANA was based on the fact that there was no such co-ordination displayed in relation to the delegation of the three Arabic script IDN ccTLDs, which occurred on 5th May.

I have received some strong feedback in relation to my comments, but I stand behind the substance of my complaint, which is that ICANN, and in particular, the IANA function, needs to improve its communications processes as the number of new TLDs being added to the Root will increase over the months ahead.

It would be a mistake however to interpret this criticism as in any way suggesting that I do not support ICANN as the appropriate regulatory body for the Domain Name System.

On the contrary, the idea that the International Telecommunications Union, a 145 year-old global intergovernmental bureaucracy, would take over ICANN’s role in managing the global Domain Name System, is something that fills me with dread.

I can only imagine, for example, how slowly the new gTLD program would be advancing, were it occurring within an ITU-led governance regime.  In reality, I am almost certain that it would not be advancing at all.

As I said at the start of this piece, ICANN may not be perfect, but it is working.

The IDN ccTLD Fast Track is an example of how ICANN can function well.  As Chris Disspain, Chairman of the ccNSO, said at the Russian IGF meeting last month, “the IDN Fast Track initiative is a stunning example of enhanced co-operation at work within the ICANN framework and displays just how much can be achieved – and how quickly – when governments embrace the spirit of WSIS and meaningfully engage and cooperate with the private sector in the development of internet policies and processes.”

The ITU currently has 191 member states.  According to this ITU Staff Paper, the highest percentage of member states that have attended a meeting of ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) is 31.4%, at last October’s meeting in Seoul.

I would therefore encourage the ITU to devote its energies to ensuring greater participation from a higher proportion of its member states in the GAC, rather than continuing to focus on efforts to undermine ICANN and to usurp its role in the management of the global Domain Name System.

By the way, Your IDN is live

Friday, May 7th, 2010

By Adrian Kinderis

Just when you think ICANN has got it right, it shoots itself in the foot as only ICANN can.

Unfortunately it seems this is yet another case of one step forward and two steps back.

While we should be celebrating the fact that Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) have finally been entered into the Root Zone, we are instead left shaking our heads at the seemingly nonexistent process lines nor communication lines between ICANN and its technical off-shoot IANA.

Before I delve into the embarrassing incompetency of IANA, let us not lose sight of the overall achievement. IDNs have been championed by many people both at a technical and administrative level – not the least of which is Tina Dam, Senior Director of IDNs at ICANN and her team.  They are an excellent example of tireless dedication and professionalism and Tina herself has devoted a large part of her ICANN career to ensure that IDNs are successfully implemented. She and all those who have worked on this massive body of work should be proud of their efforts. It is a monumental achievement and will be an impressive legacy.

The events of yesterday must have disappointed them greatly.

So what has me (and many others) ticked off? Well read on…

It is my understanding that the responsible IANA staff member failed to provide prior notification to the relevant ccTLD Managers that these names were about to be entered into the Root Zone.  While that is a very significant concern in its own right, I was alarmed to discover that the relevant ccTLD Managers were only notified many hours after the fact, long after the same IANA staff member had broadcast the news on a personal Twitter account, and even, I believe, after posting an update on the ICANN blog.

IANA staff seem to have viewed this as simply another technical update, which they were at liberty to publicise as they saw fit, without first having the courtesy to inform the most directly affected stakeholders.

This was an inappropriate manner in which to announce an event of this importance. It displays a disturbing lack of understanding and a complete disregard of the cultural and political significance of this event within the Arabic world.

I believe that IANA should take a more coordinated approach to all of its responsibilities, particularly to the addition of new TLDs to the Root Zone, to ensure that the requesting parties are given sufficient prior notice before changes are made.  This is of particular importance in a case such as this where multiple TLDs are being added simultaneously.  It is not clear, for example, whether IANA staff were even aware that this change took place during the middle of the weekend in one of the affected countries. Did they even care to check?

With a further 18 IDN ccTLDs in progress towards delegation, and the prospect of hundreds of new gTLDs to be delegated when the new gTLD program comes to fruition, it is critical that IANA’s communication and coordination procedures be carefully planned and considerate of the needs of the affected TLD Managers.

For me, the fact that certain IANA staff feel it is appropriate to put ‘I run the DNS root zone’ on their Twitter profile, says it all.  Just because you run it doesn’t mean you own it. This cozy university mentality is simply not good enough for an organisation running the most critical component of the global communications network. Your technical function, like it or not, has much broader implications.

Put simply, there is an attitude of arrogance at IANA that they will work to their timelines, and so must we. In this instance, the occasion was bigger than them. To the countries involved, countries with which we are working very closely, it was much more. This marks an historically significant achievement and advancement of the Internet in their communities.

Instead of allowing them the opportunity to celebrate their achievement they have been left to scuttle around and attempt to pull together press releases and notify the appropriate representatives of their countries. Not giving them an appropriate “heads up” and therefore making them look underprepared is unforgiveable – especially when you had previously provided an indication of “up to a month” before these delegations would occur. IANA has shown little respect for their key stakeholders and it simply isn’t good enough.

For what it is worth, congratulations to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates from the team at AusRegistry International. You can be sure that we respect your efforts and achievements as much more than a simple entry into the Root Zone. We wish you every success.

First .emarat Arabic script domain name is live!

Friday, May 7th, 2010

By Jon Lawrence

The .emarat Arabic script Internationalised Domain Name (IDN) ccTLD for the United Arab Emirates has been entered into the DNS Root Zone and is therefore now resolving.

This is a truly historic moment in the development of the Internet in the United Arab Emirates and the wider Arabic-speaking world as it removes the last hurdle preventing people without English-language skills from enjoying the full benefits that the Internet has to offer.

‘.emarat’ is a transliteration of امارات. (note that Arabic is read from right to left).

The first Arabic script domain name is:  عربي.اماراتwhich is transliterated as arabi.emarat.

The deployment of امارات. (.emarat) to the Root Zone represents the culmination of a process that has been ongoing for over a decade, involving tireless work by hundreds of individuals and organisations around the world to extend the support of Domain Name System from the 37 characters previously allowed (the 26 characters of the English alphabet, the digits 0-9 and the hyphen ‘-‘) to the thousands of characters from every language around the world.

The introduction of .emarat highlights AusRegistry International’s commitment to provide full support for the IDNA2008 standard into their Domain Name Registry Software, which has been implemented to enable the .emarat Registry System.

We are honoured to be supporting the launch of امارات. (.emarat), through our partnership with the .ae Domain Administration (aeDA) and the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) of the UAE.  In addition to providing the Domain Name Registry Software, AusRegistry International is also providing consultancy assistance for the launch processes involved in bringing this historic new ccTLD into the market.

As part of the launch of امارات. (.emarat), a Sunrise Period will be held, to allow provide trademark holders an opportunity to protect their rights in this new Top Level Domain.  Following the Sunrise Period, a Landrush Period will be conducted to allow for the registration of high-demand generic domain names.

In addition to امارات. (.emarat), two other Arabic script IDN ccTLDs have also been added to the Root Zone:

السعودية. (.alsaudiah) representing Saudi Arabia

مصر. (.masr) representing Egypt

We would like to extend our congratulations to our friends and colleagues in the United Arab Emirates, as well as in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, for reaching this exciting and important milestone.

A fourth IDN ccTLD, .рф (Cyrillic for ‘rf’) representing the Russian Federation is expected to be added to the Root Zone very shortly

First IDN ccTLDs approved for delegation

Monday, April 26th, 2010

By Jon Lawrence

The ICANN Board has taken another step towards the realisation of their vision of ‘One World, one Internet, everyone connected’ with their approval of the delegation requests for the first IDN ccTLDs.

These first four non-Latin script ccTLDs are as follows:
امارات. (.emarat), Arabic script – United Arab Emirates
مصر. (.masr), Arabic script – Egypt
.рф (.rf), Cyrillic script – Russian Federation
السعودية . (.alsaudiah), Arabic script – Saudi Arabia

IANA will now commence the process of adding these IDN ccTLDs to the Root Zone, subject to sign-off by the US Department of Commerce.

There are nine other IDN ccTLD requests which have passed the string evaluation phase but are yet to have their delegations approved, with the latest being Jordan’s الاردن. (.al-ordon), which reached this stage of the process last week. ICANN staff are working on another six applications, bringing the total number of applications to 19, representing 11 languages.

AusRegistry International is providing assistance to the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) of the UAE in support of the launch of the امارات. (.emarat) Arabic script IDN ccTLD, and we are honoured to be involved in this important step in extending the reach of the internet to the billions of people around the world who use non-Latin scripts.

See our press release about this project.

ICANN to hold webinars on Synchronized IDN ccTLDs

Friday, April 9th, 2010

By Jon Lawrence

Next week, ICANN will be holding two webinars to discuss the Proposed Implementation Plan for Synchronized IDN ccTLDs.

Synchronized IDN ccTLDs are those where there are two variations of a particular script in common usage, and an expectation on the part of users that they will be able to use either variation to navigate to a particular website or other resource.

The most obvious example is Chinese, which has both Traditional and Simplified variations in common usage.  China and Taiwan have requested both variations of their IDN ccTLDs to be delegated.

The Implementation Plan for Synchronized IDN ccTLDs will determine the operational rules which will be the basis on which those delegations will be approved.  It is ICANN’s intention that Synchronized IDN ccTLDs will function as interchangeably as possible, though they will in a technical sense be separate delegations.

AusRegistry International is a leading provider of IDN-enabled Domain Name Registry Software and associated services and is actively assisting a number of ccTLD Managers around the world to implement their IDN ccTLDs.  For more information about our IDN-related services, please don’t hesitate to Contact Us.

ICANN has extended the Public Comment period for this Proposed Implementation Plan until 17th April.

The webinars will be conducted next Thursday, 15th April at 0100 UTC and 1400 UTC.

Links
Webinar details
Proposed Implementation Plan for Synchronized IDN ccTLDs
Questions & Answers (Q&A)
Public Comment website

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.

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.