ICANN expects gTLD applications processing to start December

A new batching process for gTLD applications is scheduled to be implemented in December, the ICANN said

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) said it would take up to December to come up with a process for handling the large number of applications for gTLDs (generic top-level domains).

There are close to 2,000 applications for gTLDs, and ICANN has said it is only possible to add 1,000 new gTLDs to the Root Zone per year, making it important that the organization evolves a process to handle the applications in batches.

The Root Zone is described by ICANN as the highest level of the Domain Name System (DNS) structure and it contains the numeric IP addresses for all top level domain names such as gTLDs like .com, .net and .org, and country code top level domains like .nl .us and .uk.

The organization will spend the next six weeks developing "possible solutions," and then follow it up with a series of discussions with the community and at the level of the  board, ICANN said.

ICANN announced in June it would cancel its proposed Digital Archery contest to decide which application for a new Generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) such as ".sex" or ".pizza" would be evaluated first, after applicants complained the process was unfair. Using Digital Archery would have meant that applicants had to shoot their digital arrow as close as they could to the bulls eye of a time stamp.

The ICANN had no immediate alternative and has asked for input from the community to come up with a new method. Without an alternative to the Digital Archery program, the applicants are left in doubt as to what will happen to their applications. The comment period for an alternative process ended on Monday and the ICANN said it now needs time to evaluate the input.

The processing of gTLD applications consists broadly of two phases, the evaluation phase followed by pre-delegation, when the applicant is required to execute a registry agreement and pass technical pre-delegation tests before the new gTLD can be delegated to the Root Zone, ICANN said in a statement published on Friday.

ICANN's current plan is to undertake the evaluation of all new gTLD applications in a single batch, a process that can be completed in 11 to 12 months, resulting in the simultaneous publication of all initial results of the evaluation phase in June or July next year. However, this plan might still be changed after reviewing public comments, it said.

While it is likely that there will be some natural filtering of applications into the delegation phase, the ICANN must still plan for the possibility that some kind of metering or batching will also be needed, it said. The ICANN cited six examples of possible metering techniques on Friday, that are being considered in coordination with the ICANN community.

One of the proposed methods is a batching process that still restricts the number of applicants as they enter the evaluation phase resulting in an even flow of applications through the process, the ICANN said. This method would be similar to Digital Archery or random selection, but would have to work differently because both those methods have been ruled out, it said.

Another possibility is restricting the reporting of initial results of the evaluation phase, rather than reporting all at once, based on criteria to be determined. And it is also possible to advance applications that fall into a specific category first, such as applications originating from developing countries, it added.

ICANN plans to produce a paper describing applicant and community suggestions, the implications for applicants plus the risks and the degree of agreement on a proposed solution in the week following Oct. 2, according to the tentative road map. In the period following that paper, ICANN plans to discuss the proposals in public with members during its Toronto meeting in October, after which a new paper will be produced. That paper is planned to be submitted to the board at the beginning of December.

The organization plans to start the implementation of the new batching process on Dec. 19 and the implementation is scheduled to last until Jan. 18, according to the road map. The first delegation request is scheduled for August 2013.

Loek covers all things tech for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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