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The new gTLDs: the present

Within the ‘world’ of domain registrars the topic “New gTLDs” is widely spoken of. Slowly but surely this information is seeping to the hosting companies, the corporate world and eventually the consumer. What are these new gTLDs actually?

 

This blog post is the second in a trilogy concerning the new gTLDs: the past, the present and the future. The first part you can find here.


After closure of the first application round for the new gTLDs in April 2012, in December 2012, by means of a raffle, the order in which ICANN was to handle these applications was determined. This order gives a guideline – but nothing more than a guideline – on which extension is to be expected next. Because of…

Auctions

… many parties expect to earn money with the same extension, and these are not just the obvious extensions such as .web and .shop. No, more than 230 extensions had more than one applicant. The absolute leader is .app with a whopping 13 different applicants, but there can only be one winner.

These past months we have seen a variety of tactics being used. Some larger users with tens or hundreds of applications for extensions mutually exchanging: if you allow me .science then I will allow you .fit. On the other hand there is a “take it or leave it” tactic. Participant A offers Participant B a certain amount of money to withdraw.

These tactics only work if there are 2 applicants. When there are more applicants in the game this will result in an auction. The rules are simple: the highest bidder wins. In the situation where some registries have ‘being backed by wealthy investors’ as unique selling point, the results may be interesting. One thing is certain: no costs will be spared.

Advantage…

Before even thinking of an auction, ICANN has to determine if one of the participants has an advantage. For example, an application that is supported by a ‘community’ is placed above a general application. .hotel is such an extension: six applicants, but only one community request. They are most probably lucky and will be able to manage the extension without expensive auctions.

Something similar applies to geographical extensions: .amazon (the river and the online bookstore) and Patagonia (in Chili and an outdoor sports store) are embroiled in lawsuits with ICANN because those governments do not want those extensions to be used commercially.

… or disadvantage?

But it can also go the other way: with the best intentions you may apply for .cam and be rejected because it is too similar to .com! That is not the end of the world but then you hear that another member of the jury has accepted the .cam application from another applicant because the confusion with .com is negligible…

Still not convinced of the complexity of it all? .pets resembles .pet too much and .tour is too similar to .tours. The same applies for .sports and .sport. Whereas .hotel and .hotels can reside next to each other without problems, as can .car and .cars.

Okay, one last example: closed generics. Just when everything seems to be running smoothly, someone discovers that it may not be as desirable for parties like Google and Amazon to have the rights to generic domains such as .site and .news. Ample to discuss, so count on more than a half year of further delay before these extensions will see the light of day.

And then you have your extension…

Not following? No problem, let us go back to the extensions with just a single applicant. There were almost more than 1.200 of them, so why are they not live yet?

First ICANN assesses each application, the Initial Evaluation. This process lasted from April to August. If the application is not in order then it was passed into the Extended Evaluation, which already resulted in a few months’ delay.

From July onwards the first contracts were signed with the registries. Only after this formality, ICANN considered the applicant to be a serious one. The applicant may then demonstrate that their system is in order: with Pre-delegation Testing (PDT) which can take up to 6 weeks.

After going through this process, the extension is assigned by IANA into the root zone and the champagne may be popped: the extension exists! Depending on the registry the Sunrise period will either be started directly, or an announcement will be made with an expected date for the sunrise.

So what does this mean?

Presently, only four extensions are certified to go live, with only one who went live directly: .shabaka (شبكة., ‘web’ in Arabic). .онлайн and .сайт (‘online’ and ‘site’ in Russian) will start in December and Donuts, the registry of the fourth extension (.游戏, ‘games’ in Chinese) will first launch other extensions before the Chinese one.

It is still unknown when ICANN will assign the next extensions to the root zone, so for the time being this is the only concrete information.

In the third and last part of the trilogy we will be looking at the future: which extensions will permanently find a place in the heart of the web hoster?

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