ICANN Raffle Sets gTLD Processing Order


The Vatican will be the first to have its own generic Top-Level Domain name

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has today finished the draw that sets the order in which new generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) applications will be processed- and the Catholic Church has got in first.

A total of 1930 applicants took part in the draw, which determines the order in which applications will be considered – but is not a guarantee that the domain name will be awarded, since there may be objections to any of them – such as that lodged by South American governments over Amazon’s bid for .amazon.

Observers expect that the first new gTLD that’s likely to appear online in 2013 will be a suffix registered by the Vatican, spelling ‘catholic’ in Chinese.

The great Internet lottery

Currently, there are very few top-level domains; alongside 22 generic ones like .com and .org, there are  280 country code TDLs, but hundreds more will be added, including those in different languages.

In 2011, ICANN approved radical changes to the domain name system, allowing the use of almost any string of characters and numbers as a Top-Level Domain. The application process ran from 12 January 2012 to 30 May 2012, and while it suffered a few hiccups, the response has been overwhelming, earning the US-based organisation at least $350 million in registration fees.

Some examples of likely new gTDLs include .book, .google, .lol, .cancerresearch and .pub.

Web adress, Internet © Pavel Ignatov Shutterstock 2012Last month, representatives of around 50 countries met with ICANN to discuss the implications of some of the new gTLDs. There are currently around 250 new suffixes in the “early objections” list. Most of them involve religious terms, words with multiple meanings and brands which are named after real-world locations or people.

Other gTLDs, such as .music, have attracted applications from dozens of organisations simultaneously. Whoever goes through the registration process first will be able to start rolling out websites with new gTLDs sooner. However, an early evaluation is no guarantee that a submission will be successful.

After several pretty wild proposals as to how to determine the order in which ICANN will look at the applications, the registrar settled for an old-school raffle, held at the Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles on Monday. ICANN said the new domain names would require a gradual introduction, in order to ensure “the stability and security of the Internet”.

To participate in the draw, each applicant had to pay $100 (£62) per ticket, in addition to the $185,000 (£114,000) already paid for the application itself. As a result, ICANN has netted an additional $197,000 for essentially pulling names out of a hat. Every applicant will also have to pay $25,000 a year to keep ownership of their suffix.

“It’s the fairest system we could come up with,” ICANN spokesman Brad White told the BBC.

No English language gTLDs appeared in the first 100 names drawn. Earlier, ICANN said it would process somewhere around 80 applications a month and start the process early next year, which means new gTLDs will be introduced gradually all the way to 2015.

The handling of domain applications by ICANN has attracted a lot of criticism, especially from Russia and China, who want the control of the Internet to be surrendered to the United Nations (UN). Although this proposal ultimately failed t the WCIT meeting held by the ITU in Dubai last week, a treaty was signed which contains a non-binding suggestion that “all governments should have an equal role and responsibility for international Internet governance.”

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