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Tough Choices Two Years In

At the start of my term as New TLD Applicant Group (NTAG) Chair, I wrote about the importance of the 50th ICANN meeting for applicants. The meeting is significant, not only as a milestone for ICANN, but also because it marks two years since ICANN began processing new gTLD applications.

Two years in, the program is at an inflection point. The final initial evaluation result was published two weeks ago and the first ICANN auction will take place this week.

However, there appears unlikely to be much ICANN auction uptake while the name collision issue blocks registrant access to much prime gTLD real estate.

The New gTLD Program Committee (NGPC), the same ICANN Board Committee that kept hundreds of applicants in limbo for over half a year while debating a solution to GAC Safeguard Advice, may consider a solution to the name collision issue at ICANN London. Or it may not.

My term as NTAG Chair began with a determined effort to convince ICANN and the NGPC to take action on GAC Advice. As my term draws to a close, I wonder if applicants are now facing another six months of delay while the NGPC considers a resolution on name collisions.

In June 2012, ICANN received nearly four times the number of applications it had been expecting. Since then, applicants have faced a series of delays as issues arose that challenged the predictability of the process.

In June 2014, many of the most sought after gTLDs remain locked in contention sets facing tough choices: either the entire contention set agrees to proceed to auction for a gTLD hobbled by a name collision block list, or it waits X period for a name collision solution from the NGPC.

Fortunately, there is still a window to act. The NGPC can ensure it has all necessary information to make an informed decision on name collisions in London. It is a great opportunity to demonstrate a renewed board level commitment to moving the new gTLD program forward.

By Jacob Malthouse, Fmr UNEP Staffer, Ex ICANN VP, Co-founder dot-eco domain registry.

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