The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has released the first set of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) that have passed their initial evaluation in the new gTLD program. This marks a major milestone in the development of the Web, as it corresponds to an expansion beyond the current 20+ generic TLDs and more than 200 country code TLDs (ccTLDs) available. This means that you can now register a domain with a variety of extension options.
Currently, 250 million domain names are registered, with an average of 10 million new domain registrations every year. Despite this, about one-third of all registered domain names remain unused. With the new gTLD Program, ICANN wants to increase the percentage of new gTLDs registered per year. This means there would be a high probability that the number of domain names can double or triple over the coming years.
The application for new gTLDs goes through Initial Evaluation (IE).
The process goes through five steps:
- The Registry Services Panel (RSP) initially determines if the application would warrant individual review. Applications would get either a “pass” or “fail” evaluation, and no further analysis would be done. If there are special cases, the process would move to step 2.
- The RSP determines if there are conflicts in the registry concerning stability and security issues. These are determined with strict criteria.
- If the RSP determines that there are no issues regarding stability and security, the application would receive the “pass” mark, and further analysis is not necessary.
- If the RSP determines that there are existing issues, the application is marked for extended evaluation by ICANN staff.
- Final remarks would be given on the application based on ICANN staff recommendations.
There are three possible outcomes for the said evaluation:
- Pass-application meets the necessary requirements indicated in the Applicant Guidebook and can advance to the next step.
- Eligible for Extended Evaluation-If there is insufficient information in the requirements submitted for the gTLD to have a passing score, the applications is marked as Eligible for Extended Evaluation. This is determined by evaluation panels concerning the Financial/Technical/Registry services and/or Geographic Names.
- Ineligible for Further Review-If the application did not meet the rules indicated in the Applicant Guidebook, it is marked as Ineligible for Further Review. This is determined by the evaluation panels for Background Screening, DNS Stability, String Similarity and/or Geographic Names.
The new gTLD program allows any company to register a new gTLD for a fee of $185,000. Despite the benefits of new domain extensions, controversies and technical issues arise from this program. Companies claim that there is a lack of operational readiness for the said program, and the program is said to be only money-driven. Some even raise technical issues regarding the stability of the Web with new gTLDs.
The new gTLDs present a new competition era in the domain space, and the effects are hard to predict. Businesses and people who would venture on the program should have the budget for application and marketing, and should have the patience for the gTLD to be approved. The program is still new, and there is still a lot of room for improvement.
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