As the process for selecting new sponsored top-level domain (sTLDs) from a pool of ten applications moves forward, ICANN has entered into commercial and technical negotiations with two of the candidate registries, .post and .travel. No limit was set on the number of sTLDs to be designated and the status of the additional eight applicants is still pending.
ICANN is pleased that the independent evaluation process, which began earlier this year, has already provided the basis to now enter into commercial and technical negotiations with these two registry applicants.
Until recently, all of the applications have progressed in a uniform manner; now that the findings of the independent review panel have been presented to ICANN, the process moving forward will be dictated by the issues surrounding each application and the responsiveness of the applicant.
The independent review process, headed by an independent project manager, consisted of three panels of experts to measure the applications against the criteria posted in the RFP. Those three panels tested the applications against the criteria in the areas of: technical competence; business and financial sufficiency; and whether the TLD belonged to a sponsored community. During the evaluation process, each of the three panels submitted a set of clarifying questions to the applicants. Those questions were passed to the applicants through the project manager in order to maintain the anonymity and independence of the panelists.
Each panel submitted a report determining whether each applicant met the criteria and describing the reasoning behind the conclusion. These reports were forwarded to each applicant. In cases where the applicant had not met all three sets of criteria, the reports were accompanied by an offer to the applicant to respond in writing to the findings of the independent panels.
At this stage in the process many of the applicants have now responded and the path each applicant now takes varies according to which sets of criteria were or were not met.
An update on the status and progress of the additional applicants will be made as they proceed further through the process.