In early August, ICANN published a commissioned study from Interisle on domain name collision (covered in more detail in this blog entry here) that put into question the timeline to delegation for a number of applications. This week’s report sets up a path forward for those applications and lifts some – but not all – of the uncertainty.
In the original proposal accompanying the Interisle report, new gTLD applications were sorted into three categories, with the following mitigations ascribed:
- “Low risk”: these applications could proceed to delegation, though applicants would have to wait 120 days after signing the Registry Agreement before they could activate any domain names in their gTLD
- “Uncalculated risk”: these applications were prevented from proceeding to delegation until ICANN could conduct further studies, estimated to take 3-6 months to complete
- “High risk”: two strings with exceptionally high rates of collision, .HOME and .CORP, were put on hold indefinitely
Applicants identified as presenting “uncalculated risk” were placed in a timeline limbo.
ICANN published a revised study that provides two potential paths forward for all applications except .HOME and .CORP, including those initially identified as posing “uncalculated risk.”
Option 1: Applicants can choose to follow ICANN’s plan to mitigate risks, which will be developed on a per-gTLD basis.
ICANN has proposed to look at each gTLD on an individual basis, figure out what second-level domains (SLDs) are causing potential domain collisions, and provide the applicant with that list and the suggested mitigation initiative for each SLD, which may include a permanent block, a temporary block, or mandatory test delegation. The 120-day hold period initially proposed will still be required.
Outstanding issues? It will take ICANN some time to evaluate each gTLD to identify problematic SLDs and to propose mitigation tactics. So, the timeline for this option is still unclear.
Option 2: Applicants can delegate their gTLD now, if they block all problematic second-level domain names.
Outstanding issues? ICANN has not developed this comprehensive list yet; the data that will be used to identify SLDs of concern, and how this will be applied on a per-gTLD basis, remains to be seen.
The timeframe for developing the mitigation proposals outlined above remains unclear. However, applicants now know that they will not have to wait those 3-6 months for future studies, as ICANN originally indicated.
The path forward will depend largely upon each applicant’s business plans, as well as upon the lists of problematic SLDs that ICANN puts forward. The full range of implications of mandatory blocking and other proposed mitigations remains to be seen.