ICANN Seeks Input on gTLD Batching

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Opportunity for Community Input: Processing of New gTLD Applications

At the Prague ICANN meeting, the new gTLD Program Committee decided to terminate Digital Archery, and instructed ICANN staff to proceed with the initial evaluation of applications as quickly as possible. This evaluation is in progress based on a tentative project plan that foresees the processing of applications in a single batch, and simultaneous release of results. ICANN believes this approach is consistent with the constraints that various parts of the community have in performing their respective roles in the evaluation process, and with the feedback received from the community at the Prague meeting.

This comment opportunity seeks input on requirements for an evaluation and delegation process consistent with previous root zone scaling discussions of smooth delegations, adding no more than 1,000 new gTLDs per year. This outcome can be achieved by the:

  1. timing of the release of evaluation results to applicants,
  2. timing of the release of applications into the pre-delegation steps of contract execution and pre-delegation testing,
  3. metering of delegations of new gTLDs into the root zone.

ICANN is committed to executing the evaluation and delegation process in a way that is equitable and meets ICANN's commitment to ensuring the security and stability of the DNS, consistent with previously established root zone scaling goals.

Please write to newgtld-input@icann.org with your input. Comments received by 19 August 2012 (UTC 00:00) will be considered.

Background

The concept of batching has been a part of the Applicant Guidebook since its first draft. Batching accomplishes three goals:

  1. Better management of the evaluation process by placing an upper bound on the number of evaluators necessary and the number of parallel evaluations occurring at any one time.
  2. Release of evaluation results to applicants according to a predictable schedule.
  3. Delegation of TLDs at a rate acceptable to the technical community, consistent with the root zone scaling discussion.

Based on the definitive information that ICANN now has about the pool of applications, and work on the evaluations to date, this comment process seeks input to meet requirements for goals #2 and #3.

Leading up to and during ICANN's meeting in Prague, the applicant and community positions on requirements for batching schemes that would control the evaluation, communication and delegation of applications were reported to be:

  1. The batching solution has to be equitable.
  2. The evaluation results have to be announced at the same time.
  3. Successful applications should proceed to delegation phase without undue delays.
  4. Delegation to the root must be at a smooth rate and must not exceed 1,000 per year.
  5. The GAC is planning to issue early warnings shortly after the Toronto ICANN meeting in October 2012.
  6. Consideration by the GAC of issues concerning GAC advice on contentious applications is not expected to be finalized before the Beijing meeting in April 2013.

During the root scaling discussion, it was agreed that ICANN would not delegate TLDs at a rate greater than 1,000 per year. This is because the primary challenge with maintaining root zone stability is controlling the rate of change to the root zone system and not the size of the root zone itself, meaning delegation should not occur at a rate of 1,000 delegations on a single day.

In Prague, the batching and prioritization method known as Digital Archery was terminated and eliminated from further consideration.

Recent Developments

Initial evaluation of new gTLD applications is underway.

Applications are being distributed to evaluators in a way that enables efficient processing.

ICANN has conducted pilot evaluations and had discussions with evaluators to accelerate the evaluation schedule. As a result of these discussions, the evaluation teams have committed to accelerate the evaluations substantially, while processing them in a single batch.

In Prague, a methodology was discussed where the smooth delegation of applications could occur by first releasing applications that passed initial evaluation without the need for clarifying questions, then releasing applications in order of the number of clarifying questions required, from fewest to highest. After analysis, this methodology proved unworkable because 80% to 90% of the total evaluation time is required to form and ask clarifying questions, so little smoothing would result.

The current plan indicates that initial evaluation of all applications, processed in a "single batch", can be completed in 11-12 months, possibly less – resulting in publication of results in June-July 2013.

Note: It is planned that regular updates to applicants during the evaluation period will be provided. In addition to written reports, ICANN is looking into the use of a webinar / conference call format to deliver updates.

For applicants, releasing results in a single batch would mean that the first delegations would occur in late third quarter of 2013, six months later than originally expected.

Implications of GAC timing:

The GAC plans to "issue any Early Warnings shortly after the Toronto ICANN meeting, in October 2012," meaning that Early Warnings would be received within the currently planned single evaluation period.

Also, the GAC "is considering the implications of providing any GAC advice on gTLD applications. These considerations are not expected to be finalized before the Beijing meeting in April 2013." This is shortly before the currently planned announcement of initial evaluation results (i.e., the schedule without additional accelerations beyond those stated above).

Statement of the Issue

While there will be some natural smoothing as applications take different paths through objections and contention resolution processes, there will still be a requirement for some method of metering applications into the delegation process. This is due to the relatively high number of applications that may reach pre-delegation steps at essentially the same time. A metering method has not yet been determined and will need to be developed.

Questions to be answered by comments

Submitted comments should specifically answer each of the following questions:

  1. Should the metering or smoothing consider releasing evaluation results, and transitioning applications into the contract execution and pre-delegation testing phases, at different times?
    1. How can applications be allocated to particular release times in a fair and equitable way?
    2. Would this approach provide sufficient smoothing of the delegation rate?
    3. Provide reasoning for selecting this approach.
  2. Should the metering or smoothing be accomplished by downstream metering of application processing (i.e., in the contract execution, pre-delegation testing or delegation phases)?
    1. How can applications be allocated to a particular timing in contract execution, pre-delegation testing, or delegation in a fair and equitable way?
    2. Provide reasoning for selecting this approach.
  3. Include a statement describing the level of importance that the order of evaluation and delegation has for your application.

Please write to newgtld-input@icann.org with your input. Comments received by 19 August 2012 (UTC 00:00) will be considered.