The Domain Name System (DNS) is expanding again.
The New Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLD) Program: Next Round is a community-driven initiative enabling the continued expansion of the DNS through the introduction of new gTLDs. Among other goals, the program aims to foster diversity, encourage competition, and enhance the utility of the DNS.
Top-level domains are the characters found at the end of a domain name like .com, .org, and .net. For example, in the domain name www.icann.org, .org is the top-level domain.
The New gTLD Program: Next Round will give businesses, communities, and others the opportunity to apply for new top-level domains tailored to their community, culture, language, business, and customers. A TLD can be a branding opportunity for a business, but the commercial opportunities are endless, allowing businesses in countries, entire sectors, or niche markets to develop a unique label on the Internet.
The next round of new gTLDs will also offer opportunities to create a more multilingual and inclusive Internet for the billions of people who speak and write in different languages and scripts and are yet to come online.
While the majority of Internet domains today are formed using a combination of letters a-z, digits 0-9, and hyphens, domain names and email addresses are available in many different scripts. These Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) are available in languages and scripts such as Devanagari (एमईआईटीवाई.सरकार.भारत), Thai (คน.ไทย), and Chinese (中航天业.网址).
IDNs enable people around the world to use domain names and email addresses in local languages and scripts. These domain names give organizations, governments, and businesses the ability to reach citizens and customers in their preferred language or script.
Universal Acceptance (UA) of all domain names and email addresses, including new longer TLDs and those formed with IDNs, will facilitate the development of a multilingual Internet. Ensuring the universal acceptance of these domain names and email addresses by all Internet-enabled applications and systems, and resolving the technical issues around UA, is important to delivering the benefits of the Internet to the billions of current and future Internet users.
All applications developers and online service providers are encouraged to ensure their systems are updated to support all valid domain names and email addresses. Find out more about making your systems UA-ready.
What's the Status of the Next Round of New gTLDs?
ICANN continues to work toward opening the next round of applications for new gTLDs. The ICANN organization published the implementation plan for opening the next application round of the New gTLD Program to the ICANN Board of Directors on 27 July 2023. The plan includes an overview of project details including requirements for cost and resources, systems and tools, communications, and dependencies.
Policy Implementation work is a crucial driver of the overall timeline for the opening the next round of applications for new gTLDs. This work will culminate in the completion of a new Applicant Guidebook. The Implementation Review Team (IRT) serves as a resource to staff, providing the background and rationale for the recommendations and ensuring that the implementation of the new Applicant Guidebook conforms to the intent of the policy recommendations contained in the Final Report. The first meeting of the IRT took place in May 2023. This work is estimated to require two years, concluding in May 2025.
ICANN org expects the operational work to open the New gTLD Program: Next Round to take three years overall. Two years of this work can be conducted in parallel with Policy Implementation work.
After completion of the Applicant Guidebook, ICANN org expects it will take one year to complete operationalization work, including systems development and testing, which enables the application round to open in Q2 2026.
Announcements, Blogs, Press Releases, Webinars, and More
To read recent news and view webinars about the next round of the New gTLD Program, please visit New gTLD Program: Next Round News.
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The New gTLD Program is an initiative to enable the expansion of the domain name system. The 2012 round of the program resulted in more than 1,200 new top-level domain names, including TLDs in various languages and scripts.
The Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) is responsible for creating and recommending changes to policies for new gTLDs. This includes providing final recommendations and implementation guidance on the New gTLD Program: Next Round, which are reflected in the Final Report on New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Policy Development Process.
During the March 2023 ICANN76 Community Forum in Cancún, Mexico, the ICANN Board adopted 98 recommendations contained in the Final Report. At the same time, the Board designated 38 recommendations as "pending," because they require further exploration and discussion.
The Board resolution kicked off the implementation process for the next round of new gTLD applications, beginning with the commencement of the Implementation Review Team (IRT) in May 2023. The outcome of the IRT process will be an updated Applicant Guidebook for the New gTLD Program: Next Round.
If you would like to learn more about the IRT and find out how you can participate, please refer to the IRT community workspace wiki.
Resources for Further Information
- Implementation plan for the New gTLD Program: Next Round
- Final Report on the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Policy Development Process
- New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Operational Design Phase and resulting Operational Design Assessment
- SubPro ODP Community Workspace
- 2012 New gTLD Program website
History of the New gTLD Program
ICANN has maintained a longstanding commitment to introducing future rounds of new gTLDs, in line with the ICANN Bylaws core value to foster "competition in the registration of domain names where practicable and beneficial to the public interest as identified through the bottom-up, multistakeholder policy development process."
Read more about the history here.