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Musings on Metering: An Update from ICANN's Latest Meeting

Kathy Nielsen

ICANN held another update for new gTLD applicants last week, revealing that the proposal to meter the introduction of new gTLDs received many suggestions during the open comment period. This was just the first step to what I imagine will be a long process — one that will continue on September 12 when ICANN holds a public consultation that will offer more detailed discussion on the many different options for metering. There were some great suggestions revealed last week and after considering them more closely, I think we're going to end up with a mix of them in the end. Some of the suggestions included:

  • Prioritizing release by category — for example, uncontested, community, brand or geo (such as .Boston) applications
  • Allowing applicants to opt-out if they know they're not ready or if they want to give priority to other strings they've applied for
  • Prioritizing by readiness of application
  • Holding round robin selection
  • Prioritizing by number of clarifying questions
  • And many others...

Deliberating on these options and defining a path forward might actually happen quickly, but the actual process of implementing everything is what could take some time. Here's the timeline ICANN has outlined for the discussion period:

September 12 – Consultation to discuss options in more detail
October 1 – Develop proposed solutions with community
October 17 – Public session on metering at ICANN meeting in Toronto

The system that seems the most fair and equitable is to allow those ready first to move on with the process. This was proposed by Fairwinds Partners in a blog post they published in August, and I wholeheartedly agree with their suggestion. If applications are in order, clean, and uncontested, we should keep those moving! I also really like the option for applicants to request priority for their applications. If an applicant has five applications, or 20 for that matter, it's possible they would prefer that some are released first, and they could be perfectly happy for others to be released much later in the process. I think these two things will combine to make a more natural flow for the release of the applications.

Another interesting comment coming out of the ICANN call last week was that they have kept the door open to releasing initial evaluations before July 2013, as long as a metering agreement is reached and applications are ready to move on to the next phases. This would be fantastic for ICANN's credibility. Since they first announced that they would be able to start releasing initial evaluations late in 2012, and delegating gTLDs into the root zone of the internet (in other words, making them live) starting early 2013, I don't see why they couldn't get some of them moving sooner if the metering issue was resolved. They will clearly have many evaluations ready earlier than June 2013.

Taking all this into account, the fact remains that the applicants have a lot of work to do to actually prepare for a potential delegation. Lining up distribution channels and contracts, pricing, preparing premium lists, preparing sunrise and landrush policies and execution phases, the list goes on and on. With all this happening right now, it's likely an incredibly busy time for applicants. Some are well-prepared and others are just starting to think about these things, but every applicant should realize that all these factors will have a role in the natural selection method of metering. Those that are well-prepared and ready should be able to move forward much more quickly than their potential competition.

By Kathy Nielsen, Head of Business Development, New gTLDs, Sedo

Related topics: Domain Names, Registry Services, ICANN, Internet Governance, Top-Level Domains

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