ICANN has begun evaluating new gTLD applications and is no longer looking at batching the 1,930 submissions it received as part of the inaugural new gTLD application window which closed on Wednesday 30 May 2012.
A call for comments on how the applications should be processed confirms that on-the-fly initial evaluation work has begun.
Evaluators have been receiving applications and have committed to much quicker turn-around times. ICANN now estimates that the initial evaluation all 1,930 applications could be completed in 11 to 12 months.
The current target for publishing the initial evaluation results has therefore been set to a year from now, in June or July of 2013.
Applications that would not require any further work (i.e. no extended evaluation and they are not the subject of GAC early warnings or any other type of opposition) could in theory be delegated by late Q3 2013.
ICANN is looking to announce all evaluation results at the same time and will stick to the technical prerequisite that no more than 1,000 new TLDs be delegated per year (this covers all TLDs, not only new gTLDs but IDN ccTLDs currently working their way through ICANN's fast track process).
ICANN's plan also takes into account the GAC's stated intent to "issue any early warnings shortly after the Toronto ICANN meeting, in October 2012", meaning that these would be received within the evaluation period.
Consistent with the GAC's indication that any GAC formal advice on new gTLDs would not be finalized before the Beijing meeting in April 2013, ICANN's planned June or July release date for initial evaluation results would still work, as that advice could be included in those results.
ICANN is also committing to ensuring applicants are kept informed of ongoing evaluation work through updates provided regularly during the evaluation period. It is looking into using webinars or conference calls to deliver those updates to applicants.
NetNames remains fully engaged in ICANN's processes and is keeping a watchful eye on these latest new gTLD developments for its clients, be they actual applicants or potential registrants in some of the forthcoming new gTLDs.
The GNSO, which I chair, is continuing to work on certain aspects of new gTLD policy implementation, as are the national governments in the GAC. These ongoing efforts may yield more changes for ICANN's new gTLD timeline. In order not to be blindsided by these and other policy changes, and to continue to have a say at the highest levels of Internet governance, NetNames will continue to commit resources and expertise to its involvement with ICANN and other Internet regulatory bodies."
Written by Stéphane Van Gelder, Registry Relations and Strategy Director, NetNames