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Request for Proposal for Root Zone Update Process Study

LOS ANGELES – 28 April 2020 – Today, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced a request for proposal (RFP) to identify a contractor qualified to conduct a study about the processes and systems used to make changes to the highest level of the Domain Name System (DNS) structure: the root zone.

The objective of this study is to investigate whether there is a need to increase (and if so, how) the robustness of the operational arrangements for making changes to the root zone content, identifying any single points of failure that may exist and, should they exist, offering recommendations on how to reduce or eliminate them. This study is called for in the proposal [PDF, 2.31 MB] to transition the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions to the private sector. The contractor will write a document outlining their findings and propose changes to address any weaknesses identified as a result of the investigation.

Historically, the U.S. Department of Commerce (DoC) played an active role in the coordination and management of the DNS. After a nearly two-decades long process that culminated on 1 October 2016, the DoC's role was transitioned to the private sector as part of an effort called the IANA Stewardship Transition. As part of the planning for this transition, the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG) released a document in March 2016 entitled "Proposal to Transition the Stewardship of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) Functions from the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to the Global Multistakeholder Community." This document proposed a plan to implement the transition and included additional recommendations, including a call for a formal study to be conducted to examine the operational procedures governing changes to the root zone after the NTIA's involvement ceased. This RFP solicits a provider to perform the study described in the ICG proposal.

For a complete overview of the RFP including the timeline, please see here [PDF, 268 KB].

Indications of interest should be emailed to Proposals should be electronically submitted by 23:59 UTC on 12 June 2020 using ICANN's sourcing tool. Access to this tool may be requested via the same email.


ICANN's mission is to help ensure a stable, secure, and unified global Internet. To reach another person on the Internet, you need to type an address – a name or a number – into your computer or other device. That address must be unique so computers know where to find each other. ICANN helps coordinate and support these unique identifiers across the world. ICANN was formed in 1998 as a not-for-profit public-benefit corporation with a community of participants from all over the world.

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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."