Today, January 12, 2012 marks the day ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) starts accepting applications for new generic top-level domains (gTLDs).
This process has been heavily debated amongst the internet community at large as well as within the ICANN board but was approved by ICANN in 2011 at its meeting in Singapore.
The process is expected to dramatically expand the Internet with the current 22 approved gTLDs (such as .com, .org or recent .xxx) to hundreds or thousands of extensions which include all types of words in multiple languages including non-Latin languages.
ICANN is directing all interested parties to refer to the New gTLD section of ICANN's website for authoritative documents, resources, and latest developments. The New gTLD site is found at http://newgtlds.icann.org. The ICANN New gTLD page includes links to the TLD Application System (TAS) to submit applications and the updated version of the Applicant Guidebook which details the process and criteria for applying for a new gTLD. The updated version incorporates clarification on topics such as batching, background screening, the applicant support program, Continued Operations Instrument, GAC advice processes, and the registry code of conduct.
There is also information available for financial assistance for some applicants who qualify. Essentially applicants from developing economies have access to financial assistance in the form of an evaluation fee reduction and other in-kind or community pro bono services. The financial assistance part of the program will allow a limited number of applicants to pay a reduced evaluation fee of US $47,000 rather than the US $185,000 amount. More information about the New gTLD Applicant Support Program is available at: http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/applicants/candidate-support.
March 29, 2012 - The last day to register in TAS
April 12, 2012 - Final day ICANN accepts applications
For some background as to what the new gTLD expansion is about, please read our previous blog post on this topic: http://blog.webnames.ca/2011/06/shop-paris-the-domain-name-spa-1.html.