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Dawn of a New Internet Era

23 October 2013
By Akram Atallah

Today marks an historic moment, not only for the New gTLD Program, but for the Internet as a whole. Today, the first new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) from ICANN’s New gTLD Program were delegated, or introduced into the Internet’s Root Zone. What does this mean? Well, it means a few things. From a big picture perspective, it signals the beginning of the largest-ever expansion of the Domain Name System (DNS); a change that promises to promote global innovation, competition and consumer choice. It means you will soon see the Internet grow from the 22 gTLDs that we have now (e.g., .COM, .BIZ, .ORG) to more than 1400 new possibilities.

From a logistics perspective, delegation means that the gTLD Registry can start what is known as a “Sunrise” period. This is a rights protection mechanism built into the New gTLD Program to allow trademark holders an opportunity to register Second-Level Domains corresponding to their marks. All new gTLD Registry operators must conduct a Sunrise period of no less than 30 days. Following this, operators are free to make their domains available to the public; a period called “General Availability.”

We’ll see other new gTLDs delegated over the course of the coming months and through 2014.

It’s no accident that the first tranche of gTLDs to be delegated are all non-Latin strings – or as we officially refer to them, Internationalized Domain Name (IDN) gTLDs. In addition to facilitating competition and innovation through the New gTLD Program, one of ICANN’s key aims is to help create a globally inclusive Internet, regardless of language or region. For this reason, we elected to prioritize the processing of IDN applications and their delegation.

As more of the world’s developing countries come online it is a given that only a portion of the world’s expanding base of Internet users are native English speakers, so IDNs provide a huge opportunity to increase engagement, commerce and connectivity and represent a bold step forward in the globalization of the Internet.

For those of you who have followed the community’s long journey that got us to this point, we hope you join us in celebrating this achievement. If you are newly aware of the New gTLD Program, we welcome your participation in this next era of the Internet.

I’d also like to take a moment to congratulate the ICANN staff and our partners, and of course the applicants themselves, on their efforts that culminated with these successful delegations. They have worked diligently over the past few years with the ICANN community to ensure a safe and gradual rollout of new gTLDs to the public.

The Program continues to progress expeditiously on a secure path and at a careful pace. ICANN’s foremost purpose is to ensure the stability, security and integrity of the DNS. We look forward to providing further updates in the near future.

Authors

Akram Atallah

Former President, Global Domains Division