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What New gTLDs Mean for Developing Economy Applicants?

Everyone seems excited about new gTLDs being just around the corner. All of the overarching issues will soon be resolved: GAC and the ICANN Board will sit in a room and the wisdom of our leaders, ICANN and National, will produce the grand compromise. The starting flag will be flourished! A thousand flowers will bloom! Hooray!

But it is only the developed world that can be excited about this, for it is hard to understand how the developing world could be very excited about an overpriced round of gTLD offerings that is unfairly beyond their means.

Despite the GAC's early and continued advice on the prohibitive nature of the cost model for applicants and despite the recommendations of the Joint Supporting Organization-Advisory Committee WG (JAS WG) for ways in which to provide help to applicants from developing economies, the likelihood that gTLD applicants from these economies will be able to apply seems very unlikely at this point.

For example, there were recommendations for price reductions for financially constrained applicants from developing economies, but these were rejected. There are proposals for starting a program to raise funds that would allow for loans and grants to help applicants from the developing economies, but the work needed to do this in the JAS WG has been banned by a decision of the GNSO Council.

At this point, it appears very unlikely that ICANN, in the normal course of its activities, will solve the problem of how applicants from developing economies can be enabled to apply in this first round. Yet, if the ICANN community does not provide realistic material support to new applicants from the developing economies, this round will not be in accordance with ICANN's principles and its mandate as a corporation in the public good — not just the public good of California, the US and the rest of the developed world, but the public good of the entire world including those on the other side of the digital divide. It is up to the ICANN community to make this a fair round of gTLD applications that makes an outreach into the Digital Divide and that allows for their flowers to bloom as well.

A campaign of fund raising needs to be started.

I call on the registries, registrars, domainers and all those others whose businesses who have made fortunes from a myriad of TLD related activities to pledge significant sums to such a fund. I call on all who can afford to do so, to pledge a contribution to a yet to be established well regulated fund to assist applicants from developing economies.

There has been a common wisdom related to funding, that there isn't any money. And since there isn't any money, there has been no interest in developing the mechanisms for proper governance of a fund distributing any such moneys. No one wants to develop a fund when there is no money to put in that fund.

I do not believe that there isn't any money. I have read of the profits that many of the ICANN companies make. I have seen the salaries that companies pay in this industry. And I have seen, and enjoyed, many of the fine meals and expensive parties we hold at ICANN meetings. We all know that there is a lot of money circulating in the ICANN community. If enough of this is pledged to a campaign to help applicants from developing economies, then perhaps common wisdom will step aside and allow for solutions to bring forth a properly governed fund that allows for a globally diverse set of applicants.

I also call on those who have put up 100s of thousands of USD for a President Clinton keynote to match that generosity with an equal sized pledge to a fund to support applicants from developing economies.

Please think about it. And please pledge to this yet to be created fund. Be the first!

If the ICANN community does not decide to share its wealth and its opportunities, most of the world will be excluded from our exciting new round of new gTLDs. And that just would not be right.

By Avri Doria, Researcher
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Related topics: Domain Names, ICANN, New TLDs
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AvriSo what are you suggesting exactly? Raising Michele Neylon  –  Jan 23, 2011 1:11 PM PDT

Avri

So what are you suggesting exactly? Raising funds for the application fee only or something to fund a registry's ongoing operations?

Michele

What I am suggesting: Avri Doria  –  Jan 25, 2011 12:46 PM PDT

1. That a well governed fund be set up to help applicants who meet specific needs criteria from developing economies (as defined by the JAS WG) to deal with the exorbitant costs of applying for new gTLDs in the first round.  This would include not only the applicant fee but could also include other startup costs necessitated by some of the excesses of the new gTLD program as it is currently defined.  This help could be in the form of loans and grants.

2. That those who have already made bundles of money from the TLD business make pledges to support such a fund - so that it can get started in time for the opening of the round.

Thanks for asking.

Sounds like the first one John Berryhill  –  Jan 27, 2011 4:28 PM PDT

I'm guessing that she means the application fee and any marginal startup cost necessitated by ICANN policy.  Presumably this would include the five year operational cost surety requirement as well, but I can't see how you can do that with a loan.

It's not clear if she means actually setting up and running a registry.

I'm more interested in how one avoids the inevitable consequence of such a thing.  I'm sure some enterprising folks will be all to happy to round up some underprivileged applicants, get them over the hump and buy them out if they get a TLD up and running.

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