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Expression of Interest for New TLDs: Time to Shine!

I guess I should start this entry by coming clean. An admission of sorts if you will.

I never really believed that the Expression of Interest round for new TLDs would deliver any real value.

Don’t get me wrong… I totally understood why those supporting it wanted it and applaud them for pumping air into what felt like a big hot air balloon destined to bury itself into the sea.

Like many of those present at the ICANN Seoul meeting last October, and indeed along with those around the globe who were eagerly awaiting new TLDs, I too was angered and frustrated at ICANN’s deadlines that were slipping like a cartoon character running on an oil slick, caused by an incessant search by certain industry factions for perfection in an imperfect science. (We do work with the internet remember?).

So, kudos to those who took the initiative.

In fact, in hindsight I’d even go so far as to say I was a little wrong.

It has provided us with something to work towards; an eventual target that allowed us to re-ignite our faith in ICANN and/or new TLDs at best, or at worst something to keep the wheels moving and stop new TLDs falling into the ‘too hard basket’ for the wider ICANN community.

I could see the clear benefit in overcoming the overarching issue of Root Scaling. Number of applicants = maximum number of potential strings. We can mitigate those risks to some extent and put those out there worrying about 10,000+ strings back in their box. Makes sense.

I could even see that it could help ICANN to be ‘operationally prepared’ and know what to plan for internally (although I fail to see how they aren’t already prepared, but I’ll save that for another day).

And I could even, at a stretch, see how the information could help ICANN be more comfortable with the potential for objections and string contention, despite there being more than adequate measures for dealing with these in the Draft Applicant Guidebook.

My fears were always related to bandwidth, or more specifically, the bandwidth of ICANN’s staff. The EOI appeared to be a potentially unnecessary burden on the already heavily loaded ICANN staff, when in fact we should have been focusing on one goal alone—The Final Applicant Guidebook. In reality, I don’t think I was the only one confident that the EOI was only going to add yet more delays.

Any of you reading this that are, or have previously been, involved with software, technology or something that required niche knowledge or skills know this one very simple principle.

“More people does


necessarily mean more output”

Despite these challenges, ICANN staff released a Discussion Paper on the EOI for public comment last week which contained the proposed process and likely costs ICANN would incur in addition to their original budgets. Some of the timeframes proposed by ICANN staff appear to be conservative, even bordering on the ridiculous, such as the 60 day application period and a 4 week ‘blackout’ period for ICANN to review applications submitted in the final weeks of the 60 day window. (Remember that applicants will only be submitting some basic application details and some money, not a full application)

That said, the overall principles and models behind the process appear solid and worthy of moving forward.

So it is with great anticipation that the internet community await the outcomes of the ICANN meeting in Nairobi next month. Following some community input and discussion in the first few days of the meeting, the ICANN Board will vote on whether to proceed with the EOI which will be seen as an affirmation of ICANN’s commitment (pun intended) to the new TLD program.

We can only hope that the EOI is approved by the Board and that we can finally start bringing some competition and choice to the end users of the world.

ICANN’s reputation is relying on it.

By Tony Kirsch, Head of Professional Services at GoDaddy Registry

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