I am pleased to announce that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Board of Directors has received the implementation plan for opening the next round of applications for new generic top-level domains (gTLDs), delivered by the ICANN organization (org).
In a resolution approved 27 July 2023, the Board acknowledged receipt of the plan and directed ICANN org to provide the Board with periodic updates on its progress on program implementation, as well as to continue to prepare information for the Board Finance Committee on periodic requests for implementation funding as implementation work progresses through identified milestones.
This is a significant step in the preparation for the New gTLD Program: Next Round, as directed in the Board resolution approved at the ICANN76 Community Forum in Cancún, Mexico, in March 2023. The plan includes information related to all work streams and program and project elements for implementation of the next round, including timelines for completion, cost and resource requirements, system and tool requirements, communications requirements, and dependencies.
I want to thank the ICANN community and org for working tirelessly since ICANN76 to complete the deliverables laid out in the resolution. I would especially like to recognize the collaborative work of the org and Generic Names Supporting Organization Council for the deliverables at ICANN77 – a plan and timeline for resolution of all the outputs contained in Section B of the Resolution Scorecard; a working methodology and plan for the Implementation Review Team (IRT); a project plan and timeline for policy work on how to handle closed generics; and a project plan from the Internationalized Domain Names Expedited Policy Development Process Working Group that identifies all charter questions that will impact the next Applicant Guidebook (AGB). I also would like to thank the Board for their thoughtful consideration and work with the community on the pending recommendations.
The timely delivery of these elements is a testament to the strength of the ICANN community, Board, and org coming together to meet a shared goal. It also represents a major step toward launching the next round of new gTLDs.
A crucial driver of the overall timeline is the Policy Implementation work stream, which will culminate in completion of the AGB. This work is estimated to require two years, concluding in May 2025. The two-year timeframe is sensible and realistic, as this period will encompass work on numerous and far-ranging recommendations and dialogue with the IRT on the development of content.
ICANN org expects the program development work to open the next round to take three years overall. Two years of this work can be conducted in parallel with policy implementation work. After completion of the AGB, ICANN org expects it will take one year to complete operational work. This "2+1" timeline is based on considerable planning and assessment that the org has done to date.
With this in mind, we anticipate that the AGB will be finalized in May 2025, which enables the application round to open in Q2 2026 (with the goal of April 2026). Any delays to the timeline of the Policy Implementation work stream will cause delays to the opening of the round.
The successful completion of the work described in the implementation plan requires the continued collective commitment, considerable resources, and effort from the ICANN Board, the ICANN community, and ICANN org. A sincere thanks to the org and the community for their efforts since ICANN76!