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ICANN TAS Window Closes - What's Next for Applicants?

It's official.

After more than six grueling years of work for ICANN and the wider community, the new Top-Level Domain (TLD) application process finally closed a few hours ago.

ICANN's Chief Operating Officer later advised the community in a release that just over 1900 applications had been submitted in the TAS with one hour remaining before the system closed (final numbers will be released on reveal day). This number of applicants falls within most industry estimates and shows significant demand as expected from across the globe.

However, it's far from finished, with many months of review and public comment likely to dominate industry discussions and push our humble domain name industry further into prominence with the global media.

While the close of the application window marks a significant milestone, it's now time to look forward to the next hurdles applicants will need to contend with. In particular, the ever important 'Batching' or 'Digital Archery' component to the program seems to be the next topic of interest for TLD applicants as they vie for the rights to be evaluated before others.

Only moments after the application window closed, ICANN published two fact sheets (What to Expect Next and New gTLDs: Trending Topics) to provide further details on the timing of critical milestones applicants will be working towards over the next few months. The fact sheets followed a brief update to the timeline ICANN published the day before.

Based on these materials, below is a summary of the key dates ICANN is targeting with the new timeline:

30 May 2012Application window closes
8 June 2012 Batching process begins
13 June 2012Reveal Day, Application comment period begins & Formal objection period begins
28 June 2012Batching process ends
11 July 2012Batching results announced
12 July 2012Initial evaluation begins
12 August 2012Application comment period ends
Dec 2012/Jan 2013Results of initial evaluation published (We assume this is only for the first batch)
Dec 2012/Jan 2013Pre-delegation, extended evaluation and string contention processes begin (We assume this is only for the first batch)
Early 2013Uncontested strings in the first batch that pass the evaluation process will be ready to go live and enter the root in early 2013

This latest update from ICANN provides valuable information that will allow applicants to plan for the next important milestones within the program. While I welcome this update and any additional representation of progress from ICANN, there are still areas of uncertainty that require urgent clarification.

For instance, ICANN has yet to provide specific details about how the digital archery and batching process will work even though we are only a week out from the start of the process. Other question marks on the seemingly minimal progress made to date with the vital Trademark Clearinghouse and the Uniform Rapid Suspension components of the program still remain, and are sure to be hot topics within the community.

On behalf of our new TLD applicants, ARI Registry Services is sending a team of senior domain name industry experts to the ICANN Prague meeting from June 24-29, seeking to gather more clarity around these and other points of uncertainty within the program and timeline on behalf of our many customers across the globe.

Despite these topics that are yet to be clear, I think it's worth taking a moment to at least celebrate today's achievement.

Now for the next phase…

By Tony Kirsch, Head of Professional Services at GoDaddy Registry

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