I detect some delight in the domain name community today resulting from Video interview with ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé. In that interview Chehadé states "We are now targeting to be able to recommend for delegation the first new gTLD as early as the 23rd of April..."
On the surface this sounds like very good news. No doubt by stating a date that Fadi said could slip a few days or weeks, but not months, is a sweet sound to many — at least there is a date.
While the entire interview clearly reinforces to me that Fadi is in control and that ICANN will move forward with implementing the program, I am not entirely convinced that the timeline for actual delegation and start of a sunrise period for an average not-in-contention-or-objection new gTLD applicant could move forward (by my calculations as much as 3 1/2 months) unless we hear more about the other processes that must fall in to line. Fadi did say that various processes are being aligned or are now in alignment, so that is good to hear.
One process that I'm now assuming is on target is the GAC delivery of advice. That's a bit surprising given the history, but then reading recent GAC statements and seeing how Fadi has reached out to various stakeholders in the short time he has been in control makes it seem plausible. For example, he states that there has been more progress in his leadership roundtables and discussions with registries and registrars in the past weeks than there has been in the past two years.
So what does the date of April 23 mean for the Priority Draw #1 (IDN) applicant and the average not-in-contention-or -objection applicants that follow? Well one thing that I didn't hear are the words 'requested for delegation.' I heard 'recommended.' Does 'recommend' actually mean that ICANN will submit a root zone delegation request to IANA for the Priority Draw #1 applicant on April 23rd? And will they request delegation at a rate of up to 100 per week until they reach the limit of 1,000 for the year?
I'm not yet seeing April 23 a date that the Priority #1 Draw (IDN) Applicant could be live in the DNS, or even requested to be delegated, unless somehow someway the other processes have been changed or greatly accelerated. For example, ICANN has stated that no contracting activity would take place until after the Beijing meeting in mid-April.
Such processes include, for example, the all-important metering rate per week for PDT and Delegation Processing, # of days for contracting, # of days to process PDT, # of days for ICANN to submit root zone delegation request after the applicant passes PDT, # of days for IANA to process the root zone delegation request, # of days after Delegation before Sunrise Period begins.
Using New gTLD Delegation Date Calculator and changing around a few assumptions, such as reducing the 'Fudge Factor' from 110 to 30 days, assuming a metering rate of 100 gTLDs per week instead of 20, slashing in half the time it takes ICANN to submit delegation requests and for IANA to process them, we could be looking at a first actual delegation date of June 3rd with a first assumed sunrise start date of July 3rd, give or take a few days. Holy moly that's a full 3 1/2 months earlier than my previous calculation. In theory Draw #1000 (or in sequence but not in contention or objection) could then be delegated by September 27 of this year. But wow that would take a lot of aligning, pushing and shoving, and assumes no formal objections, no negative GAC advice, lawsuits, etc.
In any event Fadi and ICANN seem to be saying that the new gTLD program is going to happen, and that it is going to happen faster, by possibly as much as 3 1/2 months sooner than some might have previously thought. If that's the case, and you have not done so yet, it's time to start thinking about your target market, your competition, your messaging, your channel, and executing your plan. Is it time to get the party started?
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