ICANN backflips on batching for new TLDs

ICANN is now seeking to process applications for gTLDs in a single batch

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has ditched its proposal for evaluating applications for new ‘dot word’ style top-level domains (TLDs) such as ‘.bank’ in batches of 500. A statement issued yesterday said that ICANN instead would work “based on a tentative project plan that foresees the processing of applications in a single batch, and simultaneous release of results”.

ICANN received more than 1900 applications for new TLDs when the first stage of the process closed earlier this year. The initial proposed batching process had drawn ire from applicants, with ICANN intending to process only 500 applications at a time meaning that the date when new domains went live could vary considerably.

ICANN had proposed to divide the applications into batches using a method dubbed ‘digital archery’, which involved applicants nominating a particular time then attempt to click a mouse button as near to that time as they can, with those closest to the nominated time receiving preferential treatment. In a 23 June announcement the organisation revealed that it was scrapping digital archery as a component of batching.

“Given public comment regarding the timestamp process and that many applicants had yet to register a timestamp, the decision was taken to suspend the system now, pending further analysis of the process,” the ICANN statement read.

“The evaluation process will continue to be executed as designed. Independent firms are already performing test evaluations to promote consistent application of evaluation criteria. The time it takes to delegate TLDs will depend on the number and timing of batches.”

The recent ICANN announcement confirmed that organisation’s Prague meeting in late June “eliminated” digital archery “from further consideration” as a method of prioritising domain batching.

Jack Simpson, a spokesperson for ARI Registry Services, which has worked on a number of TLD applications for Australian and overseas clients, said that ICANN’s statement that it would seek simultaneous release of results from TLD application evaluations is “definitely a good thing”.

“ARI Registry Services has long been an advocate of removing the batching process from the new top level domain program and that’s predominantly because we’re looking for a fair and equitable solution to the evaluation and subsequent delegation of all the applications that have been received thus far,” Simpson said.

ICANN is now seeking public input on how to deal with delegation of the new TLDs into the domain name system's root zone. The organisation will not delegate more than 1000 domains to the root in a single year.

According to Simpson, attrition during the evaluation process, as applicants drop out, enter a contention phase for domains for which there is more than one applicant, or suffer hiccups during pre-delegation testing, will help reduce the number of new domains that need to be delegated to the root at the same time.

“We believe there will be a number of gateways whereby the number of applications that are being evaluated will go through a process of natural selection,” Simpson said.

“While we believe that the risk will be minimal that there will be more than 1000 TLDs delegated into the root, [ICANN still needs] to address that in the event something happens they may need to introduce something that reduces that bottleneck.

“It’s a positive thing for ICANN to be asking the community their opinion. What they’ve asked is the community provide public comment on how they should deal with the event that there may very well be more than 1000 TLDs needed to be delegated into the root at the conclusion of the evaluation process.”

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