The International Consortium for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has once again opened up the process for issuing top level domains (TLDs), and a number of suitors have put their proposals in the ring. If approved, the new domains may spark the equivalent of an Internet "land grab" as interested parties rush to secure the premium names at launch.
The proposals for new sponsored TLDs come from a variety of sources. Since the fee to apply is a whopping $45,000, the list remains short. The stakes are also high, as the opportunity to join the likes of .com, .net, .org, .us, .info, and .biz could mean huge payouts for the organization sponsoring any new TLD.
The New Proposals
The new proposals include:
- .asia â€“ sponsored by Hong Kong’s DotAsia Organisation Limited. Presumably, this TLD would identify those domains representing business or personal interests that originate in Asian countries.
- .cat â€“ sponsored by FundaciÃ³ puntCAT (which would be formed only in case the TLD is delegated). The sponsor’s terse and cryptic Website (www.puntcat.org) gives no clues as to the ultimate purpose for the TLD.
- .jobs â€“ sponsored by the Society for Human Resource Management in Alexandria, Virginia. The organization’s Website says that, "The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 175,000 individual members, the Society’s mission is both to serve human resource management professionals and to advance the profession. Founded in 1948, SHRM currently has more than 500 affiliated chapters within the United States and members in more than 100 countries. Visit SHRM Online at www.shrm.org." Presumably the new TLD would identify employment or human resources areas for businesses.
- .mail â€“ sponsored by the Anti-Spam Community Registry in London, England. According to the organization’s Website (www.spamhaus.org) "The Spamhaus Block List (SBL) is a realtime database of IP addresses of spam-sources, including known spammers, spam gangs, spam operations and spam support services." Clearly the TLD is intended to be used in association with email, possibly in efforts to control rampant spam.
- .mobi â€“ sponsored by Mobi JV (working name) of Helsinki, Finland. This group of industry heavy-hitters (including HP, Microsoft, Samsung, Sun, and Nokia) issued the following description of its intended use for the TLD on the organization’s Website (www.mtldinfo.com): "If the application is successful and the Top Level Domain is granted by ICANN, 3, GSM Association, HP, Microsoft Corp., Nokia, Orange, Samsung Electronics Co, Ltd., Sun Microsystems, TIM, T-Mobile International and Vodafone have agreed to form a new joint venture, a Registry Company, to manage the mobile TLD.
The companies taking part in this application see the creation of mobile TLD to be a key step in bridging the world of mobility and the Internet to the benefit of customers and the entire mobile industry. A mobile TLD on the Internet creates the opportunity to streamline the deployment of new Internet sites optimized for mobile usage. This initiative is driven with the aim of simplifying the Internet experience for mobile subscribers and increasing the ease-of-use and speed of delivery of mobile services."
- .post â€“ sponsored by Universal Postal Union of Bern, Switzerland. According to the organization’s Website (www.upu.int), "The postal service forms part of the daily life of people all over the world. Even in the digital age, the Post remains, for millions of people, the most accessible means of communication and message delivery available.
The postal services of the Universal Postal Union’s 189 member countries form the largest physical distribution network in the world. More than six million postal employees work in over 700 000 postal outlets to ensure that some 430 billion mail items are processed and delivered each year to all corners of the world.
Keeping pace with the changing communications market, Posts are increasingly using new communication and information technologies to move beyond what is traditionally regarded as their core postal business They are meeting higher customer expectations with an expanded range of products and value-added services."
- .tel â€“ two competing interests have sponsored the .tel TLD. Pulver.com of Melville, New York and Telname Limited of London, England. According to the Telname Website, "The purpose of .TEL will be to provide individuals and businesses a text-based naming and navigation structure for the Internet-Communications space: any individual or business will be able to initiate communications or access services simply by inputting AdamSmith.Tel or Hertz.Tel on their Internet-enabled communications device."
- .travel â€“ sponsored by The Travel Partnership Corporation of New York, New York. The group was expressly to sponsor the .travel TLD. According to its Website, "Open to all bona fide travel and tourism associations, TTPC is a consortium of travel industry bodies representing a broad cross-section of the industry. The actual size of the industry, from the perspective of directory subscribers and domain name holders, is estimated to be in excess of 1,000,000 travel providers, purveyors, and associated entities – a constituency comprised of travel agents, tour operators, airlines, hotels, car rental companies, cruise lines, bus companies, ferries, rail lines, theme parks, convention bureaus, and national tourism offices."
- .xxx â€“ sponsored by The International Foundation for Online Responsibility in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. According to the group’s Website, "The .xxx TLD is intended to primarily serve the needs of the global responsible online adult-entertainment community ( "Community"). It will be managed in accordance with the provisions of this charter ("Charter") and the bylaws of the International Foundation for Online Responsibility (IFFOR).
The online adult-entertainment community is primarily defined as those individuals, businesses, and entities that provide sexually-oriented information, services, or products intended for consenting adults. The terms "adult entertainment" and "sexually-oriented" are intended to be understood broadly for a global medium, and are not to be construed as legal or regulatory categories. Rather, the referenced Community consists generally of Websites that convey sexually-oriented information and for which a system of self-identification would be beneficial."
ICANN is scheduled to make its decision on the new TLDs in December of 2004. The applications were submitted in response to a request for proposals process that was initiated by ICANN on December 15, 2003. The last day to submit applications was March 16, 2004. A public comment period will open from April 1-30, 2004.
The applications will be reviewed by an independent evaluation panel beginning in May 2004. The criteria for evaluation were posted with the RFP. All applicants that are found to satisfy the posted criteria will be eligible to enter into technical and commercial negotiations with ICANN for agreements for the allocation and sponsorship of the requested TLDs.
The seven original TLDs (.com, .edu, .gov, .int, .mil, .net, and .org) were created in the 1980s. In 2000, ICANN conducted a proof of concept testbed selection of seven new TLDs. Four of those new TLDs (.biz, .info, .name, and .pro) are unsponsored. The other three TLDs from that round (.aero, .coop, and .museum) are sponsored.
An unsponsored TLD operates under policies established by the global Internet community directly through the ICANN process, while a sponsored TLD is a specialized TLD that has a sponsor representing the narrower community that is most affected by the TLD. The sponsor thus carries out delegated policy-formulation responsibilities over many matters concerning the TLD.
So, mark your calendar for December and stay tuned. There could be several huge new blocks of domain names available to register by the end of the year.