As part of ICANN's commitment to protect Internet users and registrants, ICANN operates an Emergency Back-end Registry Operator (EBERO) program. The EBERO program enables ICANN to temporarily rescue and restore the five critical registry functions of a top-level domain (TLD) should ICANN detect sustained failures. In December 2017, .WED became the first and, to-date, only generic top-level domain (gTLD) to be placed into the EBERO program.
After a long process of working with the former registry operator, Atgron Inc (Atgron), ICANN terminated the registry agreement with Atgron in October 2020. Since then, ICANN org has evaluated the situation and subsequently determined the best path forward for .WED and its registrants is to attempt to find a qualified successor to operate the .WED gTLD.
Just as .WED was the only gTLD to be transitioned to an EBERO provider, this will be the first time ICANN org will implement this aspect of the Registry Transition Process. This effort is in keeping with our commitment to take the necessary steps to support registrants and users.
As called for in the Registry Transition Process, ICANN will conduct a Request For Proposals (RFP) to identify and evaluate a qualified successor to securely and stably operate the .WED gTLD. It's important to highlight that the RFP will be open: New and current registry operators will have an opportunity to submit an expression of interest.
The RFP will include an overview of how the registry transition process will be facilitated. It will also include key operational details. Some of these elements are highlighted below.
- Third-Party Registrations: Given .WED has existing registrations, ICANN org will require the successor registry operator to initially maintain these registrations. As a part of this, the registry operator must work with the applicable registrar to contact existing registrants and provide them with information regarding the potential renewal of their domain name. This is to ensure existing registrants are afforded an opportunity to renew their domain name, since they are not given the chance to do so while the TLD is in the EBERO program.
- Funding: The RFP process will identify the highest economic proposal and utilize it as the deciding factor to proceed to evaluation. Given that the process envisions the collection of funds, such funds would be applied to costs incurred by ICANN org related to the selection, evaluation, and transition to the successor registry, and towards any outstanding fees owed by Atgron (if any). Any remaining balance will be remitted to Atgron.
- Evaluation: The evaluation process will be similar to the New gTLD Program application and the registry agreement assignment processes, which includes gathering extensive financial, technical, and operational information, as well as subsequently performing registry system testing. We do this to ensure a successor registry is capable of operating the .WED gTLD, as well as to maintain the stability and security of the Domain Name System.
We anticipate the RFP will be published in the coming months and the goal is to identify a successor operator and transition the gTLD before the end of the calendar year.