ICANN (Internet technical coordinator), NTIA (the US National Telecommunications and Information Administrations) and Verisign (operator of .COM and manager of key Internet root servers) have all come together to send a strong signal that the Internet root is ready for new Top Level Domains (TLDs).
In a letter dated 5 November 2012, the three "Root Zone Partners" highlighted the work done to automate the process of inserting a new TLD into the Internet root.
On 21 July 2011, the partners deployed the Root Zone Management (RZM) system. This introduces a much-needed measure of scalability in the root. It is estimated that the system will be able to process at least 100 new TLDs per week, once ICANN begins to approve new Internet suffixes for delegation and insertion into the root.
Given the current number of new TLDs being evaluated (1,923), this means that even if all these new TLDs were approved by ICANN at the same time, it would only take 20 weeks for these to become active on the Internet.
Obviously, this is only a theoretical number. ICANN will not approve all TLDs at once (it will be running a draw in December to prioritize their evaluation) and even if it did, not all prospective TLD operators would be ready to launch at the same time.
Nonetheless, with the biggest launch of new TLDs in history just around the corner, beefing up a process that not long ago was still mostly manual is an absolute necessity.
Written by Stéphane Van Gelder, Registry Relations and Strategy Director for NetNames