A level playing field required


Bob Samuelson

A level playing field required

Photo: Rob Byron / Shutterstock.com

Despite the high hopes for their success, the new gTLDs face a few unnecessary obstacles to gaining access to proper competition in the internet domain name space. Bob Samuelson discusses the hurdles and how they might be overcome.

New internet top-level domains (TLDs, the part of a web address after the dot) have been available to the general public since the end of January. Hundreds of thousands have already been registered, but while the programme is now operational, the policy that governs it continues to be written. Resolving those issues is essential to ensuring that new generic TLDs reach their full potential.

The board of directors of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) voted on June 20, 2011 to approve the Applicant Guidebook that governs the new gTLD programme. That document, the outcome of many years of negotiation and development through ICANN’s bottom-up, multi-stakeholder process, set the ground rules, not just for the application process but for the operation and management of all new gTLDs.

There always are those, however, who are never quite satisfied in the internet policy world, and the ICANN community continues to debate and revisit critical implementation details of the new gTLD programme. These changes can have, and are having, a dramatic impact on how new gTLD entrants operate, and more importantly on the choice and competition available to the global internet public. Getting these issues right ensures new gTLD operators have the capability to provide meaningful competition for the incumbent industry.

gTLDs, ICANN, domain registration, registrar agreement