ICANN’s New TLD Big Reveal On Delay – Could There Eventually Be Over 3000 Applications?

ICANN New gTLDS Apply Now logoWith the original date for the “big reveal” of new Top Level Domain applications passing yesterday and no date announced for when the TLD Application System (TAS) will be back online, ICANN’s CEO has said he envisages having all the technical issues resolved and the programme back on track by the time he hands over to his successor at the end of June.

“I’d like to see us obviously get the technical issues resolved, notify applicants, reopen the window and publish the strings before I pass the baton in Prague,” Rod Beckstrom, CEO and President of ICANN, told Domain Incite. “That’s not a commitment at this point in time, it’s an indication as CEO that it’s absolutely my intention to push for a timely resolution of this issue… If we can get things done sooner, then the sooner the better.”

While Beckstrom said he was not pleased with the situation, he told Domain Incite that in the grand scheme of things, a delay of a few more weeks was a small price to pay to make sure everything is done properly.

“In the context of nine-year program, a delay of between here and Prague of a few months is undesirable, it’s not what we want to have happen, but the quality of this program is more important to everyone involved than the specific date and time. We’re all focused on quality here and not just doing things in a hurry. This program is too important.”

Beckstrom also confirmed to Domain Incite that the TAS will be open for five business days to allow applicants to finish their applications, but he could not say when this would happen.

ICANN is currently analysing a 500GB log containing a record of every data packet that went into and out of the TAS between January 12 and April 12, to reconstruct every user session and determine who could see what and when, Beckstrom told Domain Incite.

There were 1268 registered users of ICANN’s TLD Application System (TAS) at the time when registrations in the system closed in late March.

However each user can apply for up to 50 TLD strings indicating there is likely to be many more applications. For example, Verisign recently announced they were involved in over 230 applications for TLDs.

The number of applications to date is a closely guarded secret. Most applicants are wary about letting their competitors know they are applying for fear of competing bids or letting other brand owners know of their intentions.

In theory, there could be 63,400 TLD applications, but this is not going to happen. However Fairwinds Partners on their GTLD Strategy blog said in late March that on average their clients are applying for 2.72 TLDs apiece. If this applied across all applicants, it would indicate there would be around 3400 TLD applications, far higher than almost anyone anticipated.

When we will find out the number of TLD applications though is unknown due to the security glitch that saw the TAS taken offline on 12 April, and while ICANN repeatedly say they are close to getting things back on track, no date has yet been set.

Beckstrom told Domain Incite he wants to make sure the programme is back on track before his tenure as CEO expires at the end of June and be able to announce the “big reveal” by the time of the next ICANN meeting in Prague.