New sTLD Application
Part A. Explanatory Notes
15 December 2003
The sTLD Application period has closed as of 16 March 2004 23:59 UTC.
This Request for Proposal (RFP) is being issued by ICANN to solicit applications for new sponsored Top Level Domains (sTLDs). It is issued in response to a directive to ICANN staff by the ICANN Board of Directors. The authorizing resolution can be found at http://www.icann.org/announcements/advisory-31oct03.htm.
This information provides instructions for completing the application forms and identifies what information must be included in response to the selection criteria.
In order to assist applicants and to standardize the type of information submitted to ICANN, there are six parts to the application materials.
1. Part A - Explanatory Notes and Selection Criteria
2. Part B - Application Form
3. Part C - Business Plan
4. Part D - Financial Model
5. Part E - Technical Specification
6. Part F - Application Checklist
Applicants must read the selection criteria carefully and structure their responses according to the instructions for each section. The selection procedure is based on principles of objectivity, non-discrimination and transparency. An independent team of evaluators will perform the evaluation process. The evaluation team will make recommendations about the preferred applications, if any applications are successful in meeting the selection criteria.
Based on the evaluator's recommendations, ICANN staff will proceed with contract negotiations and develop an agreement reflecting the commercial and technical terms to be agreed, although such terms may be subject to further amendment, as appropriate.
ICANN will negotiate specific terms and conditions with each Registry Operator. As a guide, applicants can use existing sTLD and gTLD accreditation standards and past sTLD and gTLD agreements to understand the general direction for the implementation of new sTLDs.
In the interests of balancing commercial confidentiality with open and transparent processes, only Part B - Application Form will be publicly available. Parts C, D & E will remain confidential to the independent evaluators and ICANN. This will enable applicants to provide full and complete information about their applications. ICANN will release this partial application information when it is appropriate to seek public comment. A more detailed timeline is found below.
Responses to Request for Proposal
It is important that applications comply with the application process set out in the RFP documents. It is unnecessary for applications to be complicated or to include company brochures and promotional material. Applications must address all the selection criteria. There must be a response in all of the application form fields. If an application form field is not applicable, please type "n/a".
It is possible for applicants to fill out the application form and revise the form before final submission. Please ensure that the applicant user name and password is retained. This enables applicants to access their data throughout the application period. Once the form is completed, press the "finalize" button to submit the application to ICANN.
At least five business days before submitting this application, the applicant must send US$45,000 by wire transfer to:
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
Account number 09142-07182
Routing indicator 121000358
SWIFT Code BofAUS3N
Bank of America Branch 0914
4754 Admiralty Way
Marina del Rey, CA 90292 USA
Telephone +1 310 247 2080
The wire transfer receipt number must be included in the application form.
All proposals must be lodged electronically by 23:59, UTC, Tuesday 16 March 2004. Hard copies must be mailed or couriered within two business days. All proposals are submitted electronically to ICANN's secure server through the on-line application process.
The applicant (or, if there are multiple applicants, each applicant) understands and agrees that the $US45,000 is only an application fee to obtain consideration of this application; that the fee will not be refunded or returned in any circumstances; that there is no understanding, assurance, or agreement that this application will be selected; or that establishment of an sTLD as sought in this application will be the result. The applicant (or, if there are multiple applicants, each applicant) understands and acknowledges that ICANN has the right to reject all applications for new sponsored top-level domains that it receives and that there is no assurance that any additional sponsored top-level domains will be created. The decision as to whether to proceed with further review and consideration of applications submitted for the purpose of establishing one or more new sTLDs is entirely at ICANN's discretion.
You will be presented with an acknowledgement of your submission and a complete application document. Please print and sign this document and submit it to ICANN in hard copy form. The document must be signed by the applicant’s authorized representative. Please keep a copy for your own records. In the event of a discrepancy between the electronic and hard copy forms, the electronic copy will prevail. The address to which applications must be sent is:
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)
4676 Admiralty Way, Suite 330
Marina del Rey, CA 90292-6601
In the event multiple related TLD strings are proposed in this application (up to three may be proposed, ranked in order of preference), the applicant (or, if there are multiple applicants, each applicant) understands (a) that all parts of the application must apply, without significant variation, to all three strings and (b) that, if ICANN and its evaluators determine in their sole discretion that one or more parts of the application submission materials apply to different proposed TLD strings in a significantly different manner, the applicant may be required to elect which of the strings to pursue in this application.
Any proposal is rendered non-compliant if:
- The submission deadline is missed. Late proposals will not be accepted.
- The proposal forms have not been fully completed in all respects. ICANN will not accept application materials after the application deadline.
- The non-refundable $US45,000 application fee has not been paid prior to submission of the application.
Probity and Conflict of Interest
Proposals will be assessed by an independent evaluation panel. During the application process, applicants must not approach or have anyone else approach on their behalf, any member of the ICANN Staff, the ICANN Board or any person associated with the proposal process including the independent evaluators with respect to the Request for Proposal.
Questions and Answers
During the application process, questions regarding the new sTLD application process may be sent to (question period closed). To help provide all applicants with equitable access to information about the process as they prepare their applications, a question period opens at 11:59 UTC 15 December 2003 and closes at 5 March 2004 at 23:59 UTC. All requests to ICANN for information about the process or issues arising in preparation of an application must be submitted in written form (preferably by e-mail). During this period, applicant requests for personal or telephone consultations regarding these matters will not be granted. Note: due to widespread interest, the question period deadline has been extended to 5 March 2004.
Note: Public comments period on Part B has changed.
Ordinarily, any substantive responses to written questions submitted during the application period will be posted on the ICANN website. Those sending questions must take this into account when framing their questions.
15 December 2003 - Request for Proposal documents available
15 December 2003 - Question period opens
5 March 2004 23:59 UTC - Question Period ends
10 March 2004 11:59 UTC - Application Fee cut off date
16 March 2004 23:59 UTC - Request for Proposal applications close
1 April 2004 11:59 UTC - Public Comment opens on Part B - Application Form
30 April 2004 11:59 UTC - Public Comment closes on Part B - Application Form
Proposal evaluations will be conducted by an independent evaluation team as expeditiously as possible. Further dates will be announced after the 2-6 March 2004 ICANN meeting.
The following criteria will be used in the evaluation of all proposals received. They are designed as objective criteria to enable the independent evaluators to determine which applications best meet ICANN's requirements under the Request for Proposal.
A. Definition of Sponsored TLD Community
The proposed sTLD must address the needs and interests of a clearly defined community (the Sponsored TLD Community), which can benefit from the establishment of a TLD operating in a policy formulation environment in which the community would participate.
Applicants must demonstrate that the Sponsored TLD Community is:
- Precisely defined, so it can readily be determined which persons or entities make up that community; and
- Comprised of persons that have needs and interests in common but which are differentiated from those of the general global Internet community.
B. Evidence of support from the Sponsoring Organization
- Provide evidence of support for your application from your sponsoring organization; and,
- Provide the name and contact information within the sponsoring organization
C. Appropriateness of the Sponsoring Organization and the policy formulation environment
Applicants must provide an explanation of the Sponsoring Organization's policy-formulation procedures demonstrating:
- Operates primarily in the interests of the Sponsored TLD Community;
- Has a clearly defined delegated policy-formulation role and is appropriate to the needs of the Sponsored TLD Community; and
- Has defined mechanisms to ensure that approved policies are primarily in the interests of the Sponsored TLD Community and the public interest.
The scope of delegation of the policy formulation role need not be (and is not) uniform for all sTLDs, but is tailored to meet the particular needs of the defined Sponsored TLD Community and the characteristics of the policy formulation environment.
D. Level of support from the Community
A key requirement of a sTLD proposal is that it demonstrates broad-based support from the community it is intended to represent.
Applicants must demonstrate that there is:
- Evidence of broad-based support from the Sponsored TLD Community for the sTLD, for the Sponsoring Organization, and for the proposed policy-formulation process; and
- An outreach program that illustrates the Sponsoring Organization's capacity to represent a wide range of interests within the community.
BUSINESS PLAN INFORMATION
Part C - Business Plan and Part D - Financial Model are the two key areas where detailed information needs to be provided by applicants. Part C - Business Plan must demonstrate the applicant's methodology for introducing a new sTLD and the ability of the organization to implement a robust and appropriately resourced organization. Part D – Financial Model requires applicants to outline the financial, technical and operational capabilities of the organization.
A. Part C - Business Plan
The business plan needs to include, at a minimum, the following elements:
a) Staffing including key personnel and operational capability
b) Marketing plan
c) Registrar arrangements
d) Fee structure
e) Technical resources
f) Uniqueness of application
g) Engagement with and commitment to the Sponsoring Organisation
B. Part D - Financial Model
In Part D - Financial Model, the associated spreadsheet must be used to complete the financial proposal in addition to the provision of detailed cost justifications.
A. Evidence of ability to ensure stable registry operation
The overarching concern in the introduction of any new TLD is to ensure that it does not affect the stability and integrity of the domain name system (DNS). It is important to ensure that the new registry will perform reliably and continuously. In addition, it must operate in compliance with current and future technical standards. Provisions must be made to ensure continuity of operation in the face of any business or other catastrophic failure of the registry operator, where the registry operator is no longer able to fulfill its obligations to provide registry operations services.
Applicants must demonstrate in Part E - Technical Specification that the applicant has access to adequate resources and has developed adequate plans to ensure that the registry will be operated reliably and continuously, with adequate provision to protect against operational failure.
B. Evidence of ability to ensure that the registry conforms with best practice technical standards for registry operations
Applicants must demonstrate that the registry will operate at a performance level commensurate with existing gTLD standards. Applicants can use existing ICANN registry accreditation standards as a guide to minimum standards.
C. Evidence of a full range of registry services
Registrants and ICANN-accredited registrars depend on reliable and comprehensive registry services. Applicants must demonstrate that they can provide:
- A full range of essential services, with consideration being given to additional, diversified services appropriate to the sTLD's charter; and
- High-quality services offered at reasonable cost.
D. Assurance of continuity of registry operation in the event of business failure of the proposed registry
Applicants must provide for adequate assurance of continuity of registry operations in the event of business failure of the proposed registry. Although provision for escrow of registry data is required, that in itself does not satisfy the requirement. The applicant must either:
- in addition to regular escrow of registry data with ICANN, satisfy expectations of continuity by providing a detailed and satisfactory business plan;
- present a realistic and satisfactory alternative for ensuring continuity of registry operation in the event of business failure of the proposed registry. This requirement can, for example, be met if the applicant demonstrates commitment from an existing registry operator with whom ICANN already has an agreement. The existing registry operator must be operating at a high level of performance, in addition to stating that it will assume responsibility for the operation of the sTLD registry in the event of business failure.
A. Addition of new value to the Internet name space
Applicants must demonstrate the value that will be added to the Internet name space by launching the proposed sTLD by considering the following objectives:
- Name value
A top-level sTLD name must be of broad significance and must establish clear and lasting value. The name must be appropriate to the defined community. Applicants must demonstrate that their proposal:
- Categorizes a broad and lasting field of human, institutional, or social endeavor or activity;
- Represents an endeavor or activity that has importance across multiple geographic regions;
- Has lasting value; and
- Is appropriate to the scope of the proposed Sponsored TLD Community
- Enhanced diversity of the Internet name space
The proposed new sTLD must create a new and clearly differentiated space, and satisfy needs that cannot be readily met through the existing TLDs. One purpose of creating new TLDs is to enhance competition in registry services and applicants must demonstrate that their proposal:
- Is clearly differentiated from existing TLDs;
- Meets needs that cannot reasonably be met in existing TLDs at the second level;
- Attracts new supplier and user communities to the Internet and delivers choice to end users; and
- Enhances competition in domain-name registration services, including competition with existing TLD registries.
- Enrichment of broad global communities
One of the reasons for launching new sTLDs is to introduce sTLDs with broad geographic and demographic impact.
Significant consideration will be given to sTLDs that serve larger user communities and attract a greater number of registrants. Consideration will also be given to those proposed sTLDs whose charters have relatively broader functional scope.
B. Protecting the rights of others
New sTLD registries will be responsibile for creating policies and practices that minimize abusive registration activities and other activities that affect the legal rights of others.
sTLD registries are required to implement safeguards against allowing unqualified registrations, and to ensure compliance with other ICANN policies designed to protect the rights of others.
C. Assurance of charter-compliant registrations and avoidance of abusive registration practices
Operators of sTLDs must implement safeguards to ensure that non-compliant applicants cannot register domain names. Applicants must demonstrate that their proposals address and include precise measures that:
- Discourage registration of domain names that infringe intellectual property rights;
- Ensure that only charter-compliant persons or entities (that is, legitimate members of the Sponsored TLD Community) are able to register domain names in the proposed new sTLD;
- Reserve specific names to prevent inappropriate name registrations;
- Minimize abusive registrations;
- Comply with applicable trademark and anti-cybersquatting legislation; and
- Provide protections (other than exceptions that may be applicable during the start-up period) for famous name and trademark owners.
D. Assurance of adequate dispute-resolution mechanisms
All gTLD registries must adhere to the ICANN Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP). Particular dispute resolution mechanisms are implemented to support situations such as priority of acceptance of applicants in competition for the same name during start-up periods.
Applicants must demonstrate that their proposal will:
- Implement the ICANN UDRP; and
- Where applicable, supplement the UDRP with policies or procedures that apply to the particular characteristics of the sTLD.
E. Provision of ICANN-policy compliant WHOIS service
All existing gTLD registries must provide accessible WHOIS database services to give legitimate information about registrants for purposes that comply with ICANN policies.
Applicants must include an explanation of how they plan to develop and implement a complete, up-to-date, reliable, and accessible WHOIS database of all registrations in the sTLD. The WHOIS database must also be compliant with ICANN policies. The implementation of such WHOIS policies must comply with emerging ICANN privacy policies in this area, if and when they become approved.
COMPLIANT APPLICATION REQUIREMENT
The application must comply fully with all requests for information in the following parts of the Request for Proposal documentation. No supplementary information will be accepted unless specifically requested by ICANN to assist the independent evaluators.