RealTime IT News

Domain Apps Progress Through ICANN

Two of the 10 sponsored top-level domains (sTLD) vying for approval have made it past the technical review phase, officials at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced Wednesday.

The next step for Tralliance and the Universal Postal Union (UPU), two organizations that applied in December 2003 to manage the .travel and .post sTLDs, respectively, will now begin technical and commercial negotiations with the Internet governing body.

The application process began earlier this year as part of ICANN's efforts to expand the number of TLDs available to the worldwide community. The original seven TLDs (TLDs) -- .com, .net, .org, .edu, .gov, .mil and .int -- have over time expanded to include .aero, .biz, .coop, .info, .museum, .name and .pro. They are broken down into two types of TLDs: sTLDs and generic TLDs (gTLD).

sTLDs -- aero, .coop, .edu, .gov, .mil, .museum -- are specialized domain names catering to a particular community or industry and are managed by a sponsor who sets policy; gTLDs are not sponsored by any community or industry, and its policies are established by the global Internet community, in this case ICANN.

Ron Andruff, Tralliance president and CEO, doesn't know when the negotiations will begin with ICANN. He said he's waiting for a letter from the organization, but is glad the independent review process is complete.

"The Internet is a resource that [will be used] by many people all over the world for years to come, so every step that happens in terms of introducing top-level domains has to go through a reasonable amount of scrutiny," he said. "I'm glad that ICANN put that in place and that we made it through it."

There are 40 requirements each sTLD applicant must satisfy after paying the $45,000 application fee and before gaining the blessing of the three independent panels.

The panels judge the applicants on the technical merits of the TLD, the financial viability of the company making the proposal, as well as the potential impact of the sTLD on the global Internet community.

The review began in December 2003, when ICANN originally announced the request for proposal (RFP) applications. After the RFP period was closed, the public was invited to comment on each of the 10 sTLDs under review. Afterwards, the evaluators went to work on the application.

While Tralliance and UPU made it through the review process, eight other applicants weren't so lucky, including the nine-member coalition, led by Nokia, VodaFone and Microsoft, that wanted a domain space, .mobi, catering to wireless devices.

ICANN officials said that while the others haven't gotten the approval of the review panels, it doesn't mean they are out of the running; the status of the eight applications is still pending and there isn't a set number of sTLDs that will be selected overall. The organization will provide updates on applicant progress "as they proceed further through the process," a statement reads.

"As a steward of the Internet, ICANN has a responsibility to ensure all registrants have choice and competition in the domain names arena within a framework of a secure and stable Internet," Paul Twomey, ICANN CEO and president, said in a statement. "I am confident the process we are following is a careful one which fulfills this responsibility. Each applicant is progressing at a path relevant to its own strengths and weaknesses."