ICANN releases draft gTLD guidebook

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ICANN releases draft gTLD guidebook

New generic top-level domain names will change the face of the Internet, according to a newly released draft 'Applicant Guidebook' by domain name regulator ICANN.

Released last week, the draft Guidebook provides information for those interested in applying for new generic top-level domains (gTLDs).

The decision to relax gTLD regulation was made in mid-2008, when it was decided that new gTLDs would allow for more innovation, choice and change.

Currently, the Internet is served by 21 gTLDs including .com, .net, .org, .info, and .biz.

New gTLD regulations will allow for the registration of gTLDs in non-roman characters, which is expected to benefit a growing user base of non-English speaking Internet users.

"One huge area of potential innovation will be applications for names that are in non-Roman characters, or Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs)," said Paul Twomey, ICANN's President and Chief Executive Officer.

"There are 1.5 billion Internet users and many non-English speakers will have the opportunity to express the whole of a domain name in characters that look like their language," he said.

According to the new Guidebook, gTLD registrants can expect to pay a per applicant fee of US$185,000 to cover costs including evaluating and processing the application, and ICANN’s US$13 million investment in the gTLD process.

However, as a not-for-profit corporation, ICANN claims the fee is intended to cover costs only and not to add to its revenue. If fee collection exceeds ICANN expenses, the organisation plans to consult the community as to how that excess is to be used.

“Since ICANN was founded 10 years ago, one of the foundational principles has been to support competition and consumer choice in generic top-level domains,” Twomey said in a statement to the media.

“The effect of opening up the top-level of the domain system will enable more innovation and entrepreneurial applications,” he said.

The draft Guidebook is available for review and comment via ICANN’s Web site.

It will be made available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish and contains information on the evaluation fee, the application process and evaluation criteria, as well as background material.

ICANN is approaching ‘every Government in the world’ to draw their attention to the draft and the draft Guidebook remains subject to further consultation and revision. There will be two comment periods of 45 days each.

“There has already been robust discussion and consultation regarding many phases of the new gTLD implementation plan, but this is the first opportunity to consider the application and evaluation processes as a whole,” Twomey said.

“Now is the time for close scrutiny, questions and input that will shape the end result and make it stronger,” he said.
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