After more than seven years of planning, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has initiated a process that could trigger a dramatic expansion of the Internet.
Starting today, ICANN begins accepting applications for new generic top-level domains (gTLDs). The world of .com, .gov, .org and 19 other gTLDs will soon be expanded to include all types of words in many different languages. For the first time generic TLDs can include words in non-Latin languages, such as Cyrillic, Chinese or Arabic.
Applicants will use the TLD Application System (TAS) to submit their application, in which they answer the 50 questions detailed in the Applicant Guidebook. Links to register in TAS are provided on the ICANN New gTLD page.
12 January: ICANN begins accepting applications
29 March: The last day to register in TAS
12 April: Final day ICANN accepts applications
An updated version of the Applicant Guidebook was posted with the opening of the application window. The updated version incorporates clarifications made through responses previously published by the gTLD customer service center. Main points of clarification are on topics such as batching, background screening, the applicant support program, Continued Operations Instrument, GAC advice processes, and the registry code of conduct. Additional information and answers to previously asked questions can be found in the Program's Supplemental Notes. These materials are not intended to introduce new requirements or criteria. Links to both the Applicant Guidebook and the Supplemental Notes can be found at the ICANN New gTLD page.
Also available now are changes to the Applicant Support Program: limited financial assistance is offered to qualifying applicants. Through this program, applicants, especially from developing economies, have access to financial assistance in the form of an evaluation fee reduction and other in-kind or community pro bono services. The financial assistance element of the program will allow a limited number of qualifying applicants to pay a US $47,000 evaluation fee instead of the full USD $185,000. This fee reduction has been made possible because ICANN's Board of Directors has dedicated USD $2,000,000 to the program. This is a seed fund to which other organizations can donate. In response to public comment, the draft program has been updated to increase availability of refunds, make the program available to certain trademark owners, and broaden the scope for those seeking to serve the public interest. More information on the Applicant Support program can be found on the ICANN New gTLD page.
ICANN encourages all interested parties, whether applicants or observers, to refer to the New gTLD section of ICANN's website for authoritative documents, helpful resources, and latest developments. The New gTLD site is found at http://newgtlds.icann.org.