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Why Has ICANN Cut Subsequent TLD Round Preparations From Its Budget?

Tony Kirsch

As we approach another ICANN meeting and another opportunity for our community to come together to discuss, collaborate and work, there is naturally a flurry of activity as stakeholders push for a spot on the agenda for their key areas of interest.

And in the midst of current discussions, particularly around important topics like GDPR, it's easy for other vital conversations to be missed.

But one topic I hope will be on the agenda in Puerto Rico will be ICANN's plans and roadmap for working towards another new TLD application window. I'm confident I'm not alone in this interest; as a passionate member and stakeholder of the domain name community, I have heard and taken part in many discussions recently about what it will take to make new TLD applications available again.

And as ICANN61 draws even nearer, I can't help but ask; how did we get to this position of uncertainty? How is it even possible that in 2018, more than six years after the previous application window closed, we still don't have any clarity on how ICANN is preparing for a new window or even when this preparation will be undertaken? We know that there is already community policy development underway to determine the best way forward for new TLD applications. We are also under no illusions that this will be an easy process. There's a lot of work to be done.

But I noted with interest the ICANN FY19 Draft Budget, which now states that "no resources are in the FY19 budget for [the] implementation work" resulting from the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures PDP Working Group.

The latest expectation is that this work will be complete by December 2018, with the consensus recommendations to be adopted by the Board by the end of FY19.

In addition, ICANN has already recognized in the past that "some amount of preparatory work could be done in parallel to the PDP Working Group's Discussions."
So if this is the case, why has ICANN removed the resources it needs to complete this work from its FY19 budget?
Is it going to be a decade between application rounds? If so, that seems highly unacceptable and frankly pretty embarrassing for us as an industry.

As the adage goes: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Ensuring there is adequate resourcing to complete the important work required in this project is vital; for us as a community and the countless stakeholders that we represent and to whom we answer.

I look forward to hearing what ICANN and the broader community has to say on this topic in Puerto Rico. As was laid out by ICANN way back in 2008, "the introduction of new gTLDs ... are central to fostering choice and competition in the provision of domain registration services and...to the promotion of ICANN's core values."

Such a vital project can't be allowed to slide off the radar. Let's plan to succeed, and get it back on the agenda.

By Tony Kirsch, Head of Professional Services at Neustar
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Related topics: ICANN, New TLDs
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