New gTLD Subsequent Procedures PDP Working Group delivered its Final Report. Finally.

By Donna Austin – Head of Registry Policy, GoDaddy Registry

 

Well, we did it. Almost five years from the day the GNSO Council adopted a resolution to commence a Policy Development Process (PDP) on introducing the next round for new gTLDs, the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures PDP Working Group (WG) delivered its Final Report to the GNSO Council for consideration. We lost some members along the way and picked up some new ones, but thankfully managed to keep the leadership team intact for the majority of the 213 meetings of the Sub Pro WG. 

It’s hard to recall those early meetings from five years ago—the work was organized into five tracks of dedicated teams, including one to consider the treatment of geographic names—and then each issue came back to the full working group. We undertook a number of public comment periods that ensured broader community participation in the effort.

In large part, ‘Sub Pro’ was about coming up with solutions to problems that were experienced during the 2012 New gTLD Program. If you take the time to read the report you’ll see that many of the recommendations are accompanied by implementation guidance that is intended to enhance and hopefully expedite ICANN org’s implementation of the recommendations from the Final Report.

We have been told by the ICANN Board that they have been receiving regular updates on the progress of the work of Sub Pro and undertaking ‘deeper dives’ on many of the discrete elements of the report as evidenced by input provided by the ICANN Board during public comment periods.

So, what will be different? Not a lot really. 

  • There will still be an Applicant Guidebook that is intended to be streamlined to include information only relevant to the application process—the context and history elements will be separable. The Applicant Guidebook must be published four months before the start of the application submission period, which is to be open for a period of between 12 to 15 weeks.
  • dotbrand applications will be recognized in the next process, along with community, geographic and standard applications. In addition, the report also recommends additional requirements for strings associated with regulated industries in accordance with GAC advice from 2012 that resulted in additional safeguards for such strings.
  • Application windows will be conducted in rounds and to mitigate the possibility of extended periods between application windows, ICANN org is required to publish the date or specific criteria for opening a subsequent round at the time the next application submission period commences.
  • The application fee has not been determined, but the principle of cost neutral has prevailed. The burden will be on ICANN org to decide the application fee, which again will be challenging as while they will be able to estimate the costs associated with implementing the program—the number of applications at this time remains a mystery.
  • As a means to streamline the technical component of the application process, back-end registry service providers (RSPs) will be afforded the opportunity to be ‘pre-approved’ as an RSP before the application window opens. This will enable applicants to choose a pre-approved RSP and negate the need to separately respond to the technical questions and undertake the necessary testing should they wish. 
  • The resolution of contention sets was a controversial topic within the WG and is the only topic that did not result in consensus designations on two of the recommendations: private resolution including private auctions; and ICANN auction of last resort using a second priced sealed bid auction.
On a personal level, I wish it hadn’t taken five years to get through this policy process, but I cannot fault the dedication and tenacity of those who participated over the period. However, now that the Final Report has been considered by the GNSO Council and makes its way to the ICANN Board: I would encourage the Board and ICANN org to prioritize the implementation so that we might see the opening of the next application window as soon as possible in order to continue the expansion of the gTLD name space creating opportunity for innovation along with more options for registrants at a time when an online presence is important to business continuity and success.

The final report covers a lot more detail so should you have any further questions with regard to how this could impact any future application, please contact us at hello@registry.godaddy.