Having consigned to oblivion the unpopular "digital archery" method of determining who goes first in the new gTLD round, ICANN today announced that it was going to evaluate all new gTLD applications concurrently (the "single batch"), and release all results simultaneously.
The decision is a victory for clarity and a very good result for new gTLD applicants. TLDH and its clients now have a measure of certainty about dates, and can plan accordingly. For instance, we can now have confidence that .LONDON and .GOP will be approved in 11 months (or less — see more below) instead of the 19 months it might have taken under the old plan.
ICANN says that it expects results to be announced in June or July of 2013:
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.
The "possibly less" teaser from ICANN hides a lot. "Less" can be achieved by allowing evaluators to review identical sections of applications only once. For instance, while there 1930 applications, there are fewer than 40 separate technical plans. So evaluators of the enormous technical section, the bulk of the application, would really only need to examine 40, not 1900 — or only 2.1% of their previously scoped effort.
97.9% less effort is likely to require a lot less time — even the most cynical of ICANN observers can admit that. ICANN seems to be learning to be conservative with its calendar announcements. ICANN has also announced that they will be provided webinars to applicants to keep them updated on the progress of the evaluations.
ICANN also seems to have found a way to accommodate the timetable of their querulous Government Advisory Committee, which has said that the only way they could provide "early warnings" to applicants was to make the early warnings late — in October 2012 at the ICANN meeting in Toronto.
Applicants now have a good understanding of how the process is going to go, and when it will end. Some details — such as the order in which approved applications will be delegated — still need to be worked out, but this is a very good result for new gTLD applicants.
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