ICANN’s New Batching Plan Moves Launch of New gTLDs to Spring 2013

by Robert Kriner on October 11, 2012

After the cancellation of the Digital Archery program back in June (read our earlier post), ICANN has been working to find a replacement program to deal with the issue of prioritizing new gTLD applications for delegation. This week, ICANN released its new plan to the community, which calls for the use of a draw to assign priority to new gTLD applications.

A lottery-type solution had often been recommended for dealing with the batching question, but California’s anti-lottery laws were always cited by ICANN as an obstacle. We’ve now learned that ICANN has applied for a specialized license that would free it from the anti-lottery laws and allow the draw to be held. The license is still pending, but is expected to be awarded in November.

The process will work much like a lottery, with each new gTLD applicant required to purchase a $100 ticket for an applied-for string. Numbers will then be assigned to each application and used to schedule and release the results of initial evaluations, pre-delegation testing scheduling, contract execution, and eventual delegation to the root zone. Applicants will not be able to swap the assigned numbers among their applications, so companies with more than one gTLD application will not be able to prioritize their own strings.

Results of initial evaluation are scheduled to begin in March 2013, with the 116 IDN (Internationalized Domain Name) applications being given prioritization over the others. The process will begin with 30 results being released each week, ramping up to 100 per week to keep the pipeline of applications full.

Once applications clear initial evaluation, they will move on to pre-delegation testing and contract execution. ICANN expects to make 20 pre-delegation appointments per week and execute 20 contracts weekly, beginning after the Beijing meeting scheduled for next April. Certain incentives will be given to applicants who sign ICANN’s standard registry agreement (found in the Applicant Guidebook) and don’t wish to negotiate their own terms. This means that new gTLDs could begin going live in the second quarter of next year, at a rate of 80–85 gTLDs per month, keeping the delegation rates in line with the target of 1,000 gTLDs launched in a year.

The draw is scheduled to take place sometime between December 4–15 in Los Angeles, California. Part of the stipulation for ICANN obtaining this specialized licensed is that applicants will need to purchase tickets in person — no online sales will be permitted. Applicants choosing not to fly to California can ask that ICANN appoint a proxy representative (at no cost to the applicant).

ICANN has also committed to extending the new gTLD objection window from January 13–March 13, 2013. Although this two-month extension may be welcomed by some in the community, it still ends before the results of initial evaluation are released. This issue has been raised previously, as it could lead to unnecessary costs associated with filing an objection on an application that doesn’t pass the evaluation test.

What about the funds collected from the lottery? According to ICANN’s statement, “There are also requirements regarding the use of proceeds for such drawings that will be strictly adhered to.”

A 30-day public comment period is now open for the community to submit feedback on the plan. It is likely that the plan will get plenty of airtime at next week’s ICANN meeting in Toronto as well.

What are your thoughts on this new method? Do you agree that this is the best way for ICANN to deal with the delegation of new gTLDs?


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