Archive for the ‘Existing gTLDs’ Category

ARI Registry Services responds to Roland LaPlante

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

By Adrian Kinderis

Contrary to claims made by Afilias CMO Roland LaPlante (CircleID – 21 October 2011), current generic Top-Level Domain (gTLDs) Registries have no real technical or commercial advantage at operating a new Top-Level Domain (TLD) because existing gTLDs are currently only required to comply with a small subset of the requirements of the new TLD program.

Mr LaPlante argues that potential applicants should question Registry providers about which gTLDs they currently support because he suggests that “ICANN-contracted gTLDs operate under more stringent — and public — requirements than other TLDs.”

This statement is fundamentally wrong.

The new TLD program is setting a precedent within the industry for the best practice performance, operation and policy requirements of a generic TLD namespace that is governed by ICANN. Through the Applicant Guidebook, ICANN has created a completely new approach to operating a generic TLD and it contains multiple requirements that do not exist within current gTLDs. These additions include:

•    Rights Protection Mechanisms – Trademark Clearinghouse & Uniform Rapid Suspension System (URS)
•    Mandatory abuse measures
•    Policy establishment requirements
•    Stricter eligibility (considering community based TLDs)
•    Government and law enforcement recommendations

To put it simply, current gTLDs have little in common with new TLDs.

Furthermore, Mr LaPlante’s attack on country code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs) is weak and without basis. Talk to auDA (the .au regulator), InternetNZ (the .nz regulator) and Nominet (.uk regulator), and I am sure they would be appalled to hear the view that their TLDs were managed with less stringent public policy development frameworks than existing gTLDs.

In fact, some restricted policy ccTLDs already incorporate features of the new TLD program that gTLDs such as .com, .info or .net currently fail to address. For instance, most viable ccTLDs already have strict rights protection and abuse measures in place. They also have a strong emphasis on stakeholder involvement and operate under increased scrutiny by governments and law enforcement.

The reality is that many ccTLDs perform the same role as gTLDs, except they do this within the confines of many more restrictions and policies, such as those found in the new TLD program. It is false to claim that gTLDs operate under more stringent requirements simply because they have a contract with ICANN and publish monthly reports about their registry operation.

Regardless of existing credentials or experience, the point is that new TLDs come with a set of requirements that currently don’t exist in any namespace and many of these are still yet to be fleshed out by ICANN (take the Trademark Clearing House for example).

It’s important to remember that one of ICANN’s primary goals in developing the new TLD program was to find a way to facilitate entry for new Registry operators entering the market. ICANN is attempting to introduce competition and they have done so in such a way that potential applicants do not even need to partner with a Registry Services Provider, let alone a gTLD provider in order to operate a new TLD Registry. While existing Registry Operators will deliver a superior solution (usually at a cost benefit) to those entities that do not wish to perform the technical function themselves, this choice is left with the applicant. ICANN will not give applicants any extra points for choosing an existing provider, despite what the propaganda might say.

It is true that not all TLD Registry Services Providers are created equal. There are good providers and there are ordinary providers. Each has different qualities and credentials. Unfortunately, operating an existing gTLD Registry is not one that holds relevance to the success or failure of your new TLD.

The fact of the matter is no one has ever operated a new TLD and we are all new to this world.

What you need to ask your provider is not their experience with existing gTLD registries, but their understanding of the program, its new requirements, the Applicant Guidebook and how they will technically support your specific requirements.

Clearly some providers don’t seem to understand that it will be a new world, which to me suggests that perhaps they don’t understand the program as much as they would have you believe.

By Adrian Kinderis, CEO of ARI Registry Services

A DeLorean, 88 Miles an Hour and a Fully-Charged Flux Capacitor…

Monday, July 12th, 2010

By Tony Kirsch

For a brief moment last week, I thought my days spent dreaming of hover-boards, flying cars and Biff’s elusive Sports Almanac were finally over. From reports circulating online, we had finally reached “Back to the Future Day”.

Those movie buffs out there will know exactly what I’m referring to. It’s the day Doc Brown and Marty McFly pumped their DeLorean up to 88 miles per hour and flew into the future in search of, well I’m not quite sure what… But it was cool whatever it was.


Being a guy that has long held a vision of cruising down to my local store decked out in a fluoro hat, self-drying bomber jacket and electric Nikes, it quickly came to me that Back to the Future day was, in fact, October 21, 2015. Great Scott! They had me going there for a second…

But it got me thinking. What would the Domain Name world look like if that crazy cat Doc Brown swung past in his DeLorean, with a fully-charged flux capacitor and a return ticket to October 21st 2015?

Well, you’ll never believe it…I put in a call to into an old Science camp buddy and he was able to get onto the Doc, pull him out of retirement and convince him to fire up the DeLorean, one last time, all for the greater good of the Domain Name industry.

Although I’ve kept a little secret or two to myself (like next week’s lottery numbers), below is a brief insight into what 2015 looks like for the industry:

• The new gTLD program has well and truly taken hold. Following the approval of the final version of the Applicant Guidebook at ICANN 39 in Cartegena, the 45 day registration period in early 2011 drew a massive 865 applications, including a range of generics, corporate, brand and geographic TLDs.

• 526 of those applications made it through to approval and launched. The auction process for generic TLDs created a word-wide buzz with the highlight being the 12 parties that entered into a bidding war for .web, which achieved a whopping $53 million price tag. The total revenue from the auction process was a staggering $437 million. Though much of this windfall was used to support a range of development initiatives around the globe, eyebrows were certainly raised when ICANN decided to purchase their own Airbus A380 (affectionately known as The Flying Starfish). This was deemed to be a cheaper option than sending their 430 staff to each meeting on commercial airlines, and it also solved the problem that it was becoming increasingly difficult to get to ICANN meetings as ICANN themselves had booked out all the flights. This problem came to a head at the October 2012 meeting in Vladivostok, where staff outnumbered participants.

• The kerfuffle about vertical integration is long forgotten. The Board finally lost patience with the GNSO in late 2010 and decided to allow full, unfettered integration between Registries and Registrars. Dozens of registries are creating and retailing generic TLDs with a range of innovative business models and with no detectable harm whatsoever to consumers. On the contrary, consumers and businesses now have a whole world of choice about how they construct their online identities. The massive increase in contracted parties however rendered the GNSO even more unwieldy and dysfunctional, and has led to yet another restructuring, which is taking some years to work out.

• In 2015 the definition of success for a namespace is no longer based purely on registration numbers. Registries have adopted “left of the dot” thinking to create portals that bind tribes of people together from across the globe. A focus on utility seems to have won over the more simplistic measure of volume.

• Those organisations that chose to utilise the full potential of ‘dot Brand’ TLDs and have built a strategy for implementation are reaping the benefits of leading the pack. Many industry watchers were aghast to discover that Facebook had chosen to pass up the opportunity, especially when they saw MySpace reinvent itself under the .myspace TLD, attracting more than 7 million registrants in their first 18 months of operation.

• The search market is no longer as all-powerful as it is back in 2010. The creation of ‘dot Brand’ TLDS has finally pulled users away from the clutter of search engines and back to direct navigation in its traditional and intuitive form. Marketers around the world are enjoying unheard of rates of recall and message efficiency.

• .xxx is still yet to see the light of day, despite being approved by the ICANN Board in late 2010, much to the delight of most of the adult entertainment industry. Meanwhile .sex and .porn are proving successful, even though a number of governments have blocked access to them.

• Linguistic communities across the world have followed the example of .cat and now hold a firm slice of the internet, while IDN TLDs have also been particularly successful. The Chinese language versions of .com and .org are both now well-established, with over 40 million registered names between them, happily co-existing in both Simplified and Traditional scripts. The .china IDN ccTLDs have helped to consign .cn to now almost complete irrelevancy.

• Also on the IDN front, the new IDNA2012 protocol included a number of new scripts and characters including Wing Dings and Vulcan that have caused great excitement in certain sectors of the ‘technical’ community. The inclusion of a number of additional punctuation marks as valid IDN characters also saw Yahoo! finally secure their domain name, including the exclamation mark.

• Many smaller and especially newer ccTLDs have struggled to maintain their relevance in the new Domain Name landscape having missed the window of opportunity to establish themselves before the release of the new gTLDs.

• Interestingly, the future of .tv is now in question, with the last inhabitants of the islands of Tuvalu moving to their new homes in Australia and New Zealand in late 2014 as the rising ocean engulfs the remaining dry land, and the United Nations considers what to do with a country that physically no longer exists.

But what of .com, I hear you ask? Well it’s still around and going strong, but has seen a steady decline in new registration volumes since the new gTLD program launched. A study released in late 2014 highlighted an increasing percentage of .com domains that were simply redirecting to new gTLDs.

And finally, AusRegistry International has continued to create the benchmark for ICANN meeting marketing with their wildly successful campaign involving personalised ‘TLD hover-boards’, unveiled at the March 2015 conference in Nuuk, Greenland.

So there we are, a little insight into what our world will look like when the real Back to the Future Day swings around in a little over 5 years time. While there was no reference to flying cars or talking microwaves, my time with the Doc opened my eyes to the exciting future of an industry that is driving innovation in the world’s largest media channel. I for one can’t wait to be a part of it.

Oh and according to page 286 of Gray’s Sports Almanac, 2010 is the year of Cadel Evans who finally holds on through the mountain stages to claim his first Tour de France.

The future looks bright for new gTLDs!

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

By Tony Kirsch

The ICANN Board meeting undertaken recently in Nairobi was indeed eventful and there were many vital topics on the agenda, in particular for the new gTLD program that kept many interested parties on the edges of their seats as the meeting unfolded.

Listening in remotely from Australia proved to be a great success after security concerns had sadly dampened my enthusiasm for the 24 hour flight.

One of the more controversial decisions was in regard to the Expression of Interest (EOI), a program intended to allow potential new gTLD applicants to pre-register for their desired TLD and provide ICANN and the community with invaluable information regarding likely volumes of applications.

The genesis of the EOI took place at the ICANN meeting in Seoul and many in the industry strongly believed it would solve many of the unresolved issues relating to the new gTLD program. The EOI was however withdrawn by the Board at the meeting in Nairobi on the basis that many of the issues holding up the launch of the program were close to being resolved, rendering the EOI somewhat redundant.

Although many in the internet community were quite unhappy with this decision, it was encouraging to hear such rigorous discussion by Board members and ICANN staff suggesting that many of the outstanding issues were in fact close to being resolved.

Further supporting the idea that we were rapidly approaching a Final Application Guidebook, the Board also announced a list of items to be included in version 4 of the Draft Application Guidebook including;

•    Trademark Clearinghouse
•    Uniform Rapid Suspension System (URS)
•    IDN Variants
•    IDN 3 Character Requirement

thus making substantial progress towards resolving many concerns exhibited by the internet community over recent times.

So finally after years of waiting, real progress has been made and things are now starting to look good for new gTLD applicants who have waited for the program to go ahead for quite some time. A new version of the Draft Application Guidebook is due right before the 38th ICANN meeting in Brussels, in June, and according to ICANN staff and Board comments, it is likely to be very close to the final version.

So what does this mean for everyone out there who has their mind set on applying for a new gTLD?

There are a number of steps that each applicants needs to go through and be prepared for when  the application window opens. For organisations and governments, this is the time when you need to start considering what you have to do to get your TLD and to begin the rigorous preparation and planning that will ensure that your TLD is a success.

Furthermore, there is a heavy requirement on new TLD applicants to justify their ability to technically and financially operate a TLD, those who think they can make a last minute decision about proceeding should beware.

Public statements of intent to apply for their own TLD have been given from many cities around the world as many governments seek to provide a localised location for their residents online.

Additionally, I was very excited to see that the message has reached some large corporate entities with Canon announcing last week their intention to apply for .canon as the future of their corporate online branding.

To obtain their company name or trademark as a TLD is an unprecedented opportunity for corporations around the world and a unique branding exercise with large benefits attached. I think we can expect to see many others follow the innovative trend set by the Japanese electronics powerhouse in the near future.

So, despite a little angst at not having the Expression of Interest program approved by the Board last week, the update is that there is even better news for those of us supporting new gTLDs as we rapidly approach the application period later in the year.

And as always, we’re always here to help potential applicants through this maze. Just drop us an email here.

ICANN stamps out domain tasting

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

By Jon Lawrence

ICANN has announced that the controversial practice of domain tasting has been eradicated from the gTLD registries. This achievement represents an all too rare but nonetheless very welcome example of ICANN’s bottom-up policy development process working through to a successful, tangible conclusion.

Domain tasting is a practice that involves using the five day ‘Add Grace Period’(AGP) as a completely risk-free ‘try-before-you-buy’ opportunity for testing the level of traffic that recently-deleted domain names are attracting.  Any names that attract insufficient traffic to turn a profit from monetisation using a Pay-Per-Click advertising platform such as Google Adsense are then deleted before the end of the AGP, without charge.

The AGP was originally implemented to give Registrars a short window within which to deal with errors and other issues, such as registrations made using stolen credit cards.  Over the last few years, this worthy intention became completely overwhelmed by registrars engaging in Domain Tasting, and resulted in enormous growth in system loads for the larger registries, particularly Verisign’s .COM and .NET Registry.  The problem reached such a scale that ICANN has estimated that over 99% of all new domain registrations were the result of Domain Tasting before the recent changes were implemented.

A new ICANN report shows that Domain Tasting has declined by 99.7% since the new Domain Tasting Policy was implemented earlier this year.  This new Policy imposes additional fees when a registrar registers and then deletes domain names above a set monthly threshold, thereby effectively rendering the Domain Tasting business model uneconomic, while still maintaining the original function of the AGP.

There were a number of negative consequences of this gaming of the system, apart from increased costs for the affected Registry Operators.  Re-registering domain names that had been allowed to lapse inadvertently became extremely difficult, if not impossible, due to the sophisticated automated systems that were employed by those registrars involved in Domain Tasting.  ICANN has also singled out ‘an enormous proliferation’ in the number of parking pages – usually single page websites containing nothing but keyword-generated advertisements – as a significant negative consequence of the Domain Tasting phenomenon.  This is no doubt true, however these sorts of sites existed before Domain Tasting came along and will continue to exist now that it has been eradicated.  It is, for example, a very common practice now for registrars to point new domain names to such sites by default, in an attempt to generate incremental advertising revenue, until the registrant is ready to upload a ‘real’ website.

ICANN is to be congratulated on putting an end to a practice that was causing significant disruption and providing an advantage to a small number of players within the industry at the expense of the great majority.  It’s not often that you’ll see a policy change being that effective, that quickly.

See ICANN’s announcement or go directly to the AGP Deletes Status Report.