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ICANN: Progress in Process for Introducing New Sponsored Top-Level Domains

ICANN today announced that, in response to a request for proposals, it has received ten applications for new sponsored top-level domains (sTLD's).

Proposed TLD String Proposed Sponsor Sponsor Location Web Address
.asia DotAsia Organisation Limited Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China
.cat Fundació puntCAT (which would be formed only in case the TLD is delegated) N/A
.jobs The Society for Human Resource Management Alexandria, Virginia, United States
.mail The Anti-Spam Community Registry London, United Kingdom
.mobi Mobi JV (working name) Helsinki, Finland
.post Universal Postal Union (UPU) Bern, Switzerland
.tel Melville, New York, United States
.tel Telname Limited London, United Kingdom
.travel The Travel Partnership Corporation New York, New York, United States
.xxx The International Foundation for Online Responsibility Toronto, Ontario, Canada

This sTLD RFP is the first stage of ICANN's strategic initiative to move to a streamlined, fully-globalized process for the introduction of new generic TLDs.

This unique phase is part of the continuing expansion of the domain name system.

The applications were submitted in response to a request for proposals process that was initiated by ICANN on 15 December 2003. The last day to submit applications was 16 March 2004. A public comment period will open 1- 30 April 2004.

The applications will be reviewed by an independent evaluation panel beginning in May 2004. The criteria for evaluation were posted with the RFP. All applicants that are found to satisfy the posted criteria will be eligible to enter into technical and commercial negotiations with ICANN for agreements for the allocation and sponsorship of the requested TLDs.

The seven original gTLDs (.com, .edu, .gov, .int, .mil, .net, and .org) were created in the 1980s. In 2000, ICANN conducted a proof of concept testbed selection of seven new TLDs. Four of those new TLDs (.biz, .info, .name, and .pro) are unsponsored. The other three TLDs from that round (.aero, .coop, and .museum) are sponsored.

An unsponsored TLD operates under policies established by the global Internet community directly through the ICANN process, while a sponsored TLD is a specialized TLD that has a sponsor representing the narrower community that is most affected by the TLD. The sponsor thus carries out delegated policy-formulation responsibilities over many matters concerning the TLD.

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Domain Name System
Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as"""" is not an IDN."