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12|18|2012 06:48 pm EDT

Report from the ICANN Prioritization Draw for New gTLDs

by Joe Alagna in Categories: new gTLDs

Tags: , , , , , , ,

The following is a guest post by Joe Alagna, GM North American Markets at CentralNic. He attended yesterday’s prioritization draw at the LAX Hilton in Los Angeles. His summary outlines the results of the lottery draw along with some important information regarding the timeline of the new gTLD process.

Yesterday, ICANN held the prioritization draw and assigned priority to each new gTLD application . The first thing I noticed as I started my day is Uniregistry’s Santa Claus milling around the hotel and wishing applicants a Merry (dot).Christmas. I think he really added to the event; it was appropriate for the season.

The event was well attended. All the largest applicants were present and interested in the drawing. We saw Donuts, Google, Uniregistry, TLDH, and others; about 300 – 400 people. The mood in the drawing room was all about “focus”. You could see that applicants were taking this seriously and that they wanted to know where they’ll stand over the next year.

The drawing began with a “glitch”. The auctioneer’s microphone stopped working and, apparently, the electricity to their systems was halted for a while. Everyone waited patiently and eventually things got started.

All applications were assigned priority numbers but the applications where drawing tickets were not purchased, were drawn last. There were 108 IDNs with tickets and 1,658 Non-IDNs with tickets to draw. So the drawing didn’t end until about 10:30 PM. The drawing proceeded in four stages:

  • IDNs with tickets
  • Non-IDNs with tickets
  • IDNs without tickets
  • Non-IDNs without tickets

The first ticket drawn was an IDN for Catholic Church in Chinese. The IDN drawing went quick. The last ticket drawn out of those that actually purchased tickets was a Donuts string, .finance. Some applicants, including Google, did not purchase tickets [for all of their applications] as part of a strategy, seemingly because they did not want priority for certain strings.

After a quiet start, where everyone listened and focused intently on what strings were being drawn, ICANN’s new gTLD Director, Christine Willett, announced that it would be OK to cheer if your string was picked. That gave the room some permission to have fun and cheering occurred but it didn’t stop the fact that there were a lot of strings to pick. The die hards hung it out, but most people went to dinner and got the results online later.

People who had uncontested strings were especially happy to get low numbers because they could get their strings in the root much earlier. I was really happy with how this turned out. Most participants felt that the drawing was done thoughtfully and fairly.

If you are an applicant, here are my estimates of the best and worst case scenarios moving forward.

The applicant’s likely situation now:

  • ICANN has stated that no contracts will occur before the April 2013 ICANN meeting.
  • You have passed the Administrative Checks
  • You have passed the DNS Stability test (all apps have passed)
  • Hopefully, you have received no Early Warnings from ICANN’s Government Advisory Committee (GAC)
  • Hopefully, you have no obvious String Similarity Issues, subject to ICANN’s evaluation which should be released very soon (a recent progress report said November 2012 ?)
  • Hopefully you have no obvious Geographic Name Similarities, subject to ICANN’s evaluation which should be released very soon (a recent progress report said November 2012)

Best case scenarios moving forward

  • In Feb. or so, you pass Background Screening.
  • In Feb. or so, you pass Registry Services Screening.
  • You receive no Public Objections related to String Confusion, Legal Rights, Limited, Public Interest, or Community.
  • Between March and August, you pass Financial Evaluation.
  • Between March and August, you pass Technical & Operational Evaluation.
  • Between March and August, you execute a contract with ICANN.
  • No lawsuits are filed that extend the process.
  • Between March and August, your gTLD is delegated to the root of the Internet and goes live.

Possible worst case scenarios

Worst case scenarios include the opposites of what you see above, which can either stop the application or add 12 to 18 months to the process of getting your new gTLD working. If you were able to get a low number, you could see something much closer to the Best Case Scenario and get your gTLD(s) working by the middle or end of 2013.

We have one more step in the process behind us. I wish you all the best moving forward!