A. General Description of the Application
  1. TLD String(s) Requested.
  2. Category.
    General Purpose, Restricted Commercial.
    The application was filed by the .TV Corporation International (“dotTV”) on behalf of The dotPro Consortium (“DPC”) for the right to operate and administer the registry of the .pro TLD. The application targets a limited registrant base and a broad end user group. Accordingly, the DPC qualifies for the general purpose category and restricted commercial group.
  3. Sponsor, Registry Operator and Subcontractor.
    a. Sponsor. Unsponsored Application.
    b. Registry Operator. The DPC is an unincorporated joint venture which proposes to incorporate as a Delaware corporation upon approval of the application. Conditional upon award, the entities comprising the DPC (the "Partners") include: (1) dotTV, (2) Lycos, Inc., (3) XO Communications, Inc., (4) SK Telecom C, Ltd., (5) 7DC, Inc. and (6) OnlineNIC, Inc. DPC will be organized as a joint venture corporation which shall be jointly owned and controlled by the Partners. All management, marketing, business development, finance/administrative and legal functions will be performed directly by DPC's own personnel. DPC will outsource to dotTV all technical functions with regard to the .pro registry.
    c. Subcontractor. Pursuant to an exclusive agreement with the Government of Tuvalu, dotTV, a Delaware corporation with its principal address in Pasadena, California, is a registrar and the exclusive worldwide registry for second-level domain names in the .tv TLD. dotTV received its initial funding in November of 1999 and began registering .tv domain names in April 2000. As an operating registry, dotTV claims to have in place state-of-the-art global technical infrastructure and high-speed name resolution capability which would be required by any prospective registry operator. dotTV's primary source of income is derived from the registration of .tv domain names. dotTV claims that since its launch in April of 2000, thousands of companies from around the globe have launched websites with the .tv TLD and that as of September 25, 2000 dotTV had registered over 100,000 names within the .tv TLD.
  4. Registry-Registrar Model.
    DPC proposes to operate soley as a registry with regard to the new generic TLD. DPC would authorize the involvement of both ICANN accredited and non-accredited registrars.

B. Technical Review
  1. Summary Description of Proposal.
    DPC proposes a TLD called .pro to allow registration of professionals in a wide variety of fields. They plan to support the registry on the existing .tv registry infrastructure, augmented with extra hardware. They propose to create second level domains for many fields, allowing registrars to register third level domains within those second level domains. There is no requirement that the registrant provide evidence of professional affiliation in the field.
  2. Support of the Business Plan by the Technical Plan.
    a. Total Capacity. The applicant proposes to upgrade the existing dotTV registry to support the DotPRO requirements. The architectural seems amenable to such a strategy.

    A more serious question is whether the proposal has correctly forecast total demand. If the total demand is significantly higher that projected then the scalability of the existing dotTV infrastructure should be more closely examined. The proposal suggests that dividing the .pro namespace into second level namespaces by professional field will reduce cyberquatting and general namespace demand. DotPRO apparently does not plan to restrict registrations within a particular SLD. Combined with a low fee, many businesses and individuals may choose to take a broad view of their professional expertise and register in many (or all) second level domains, possibly leading to a much higher load than projected.
    b. Projected Growth Rate. They project growth up to as many as 17 million domain names within five years. It is difficult to assess whether the enhanced dotTV platform will scale that far.
    c. Startup Period. It is proposed that second level domains for various professions phase in gradually to limit the initial load on the system. This method seems feasible, to the extent that registrants behave as the applicants expect and only register in the domain(s) that best describes their professional expertise.
    d. Fault Tolerance. The architectural diagrams suggest reasonable redundancy in the data centers, and they offer a very wide geographic spread of registry servers and especially DNS servers.
    e. Security. The discussion of security for the dotTV proposal is so limited that it is difficult to assess the electronic security plans. Physical security should be adequate.
  3. Summary of Relevant Experience.
    The major relevant experience is from the dotTV partner, which runs the .tv registry. This registry contains 100,000 names, and deals with a different audience than the proposed registry. Another partner has some experience as a registrar in China, but it is unclear what form of participation that partner will take. Lycos has vast experience running a leading search engine, but it is unclear what role they will play in the consortium, and that experience is not directly relevant to running a registry.
  4. Apparent Implementation Risks.
    As noted above, it is difficult to assess the security proposed. The applicant’s startup strategy might seriously underestimate registrations, since they provide no curb on registrants. There is a risk that they will not be ready for unexpected high demand, particularly at startup.
  5. Available of Human, Operational and Technical Resources to Cope with Unexpected Events.
    DotPRO currently has no employees. The applicant proposes to staff the company once the TLD is awarded. DotTV is responsible for technical staffing and has demonstrated the ability to hire people for registry operations. Apparently the other partner companies are not expected to contribute staff.
  6. Advancing the State of the Art.
    The division of the TLD by second level domains creatable only by the registry administration is an interesting idea that may have benefits, particularly in regard to handling initial startup. Otherwise, the proposal largely uses existing technology.
  7. Other Comments.

C. Business Review
  1. Applicant’s Representations.
    Per the application, the DPC includes the following entities: (1) The .TV Corporation International, (2) Lycos, Inc., (3) XO Communications, Inc., (4) SK Telecom Co. Ltd, (5) 7DC, Inc. and (6) OnlineNIC, Inc. dotTV is the registry for the .tv ccTLD and has registered over 100,000 domain names. Lycos, Inc. is a leading Internet search and portal. XO Communicaiotns, formerly Concentric Network, is the largest holder of fixed wireless spectrum in North America. SK Telecom is the largest wireless telecommunications company in Korea. 7DC is a recently accredited Korean registrar. OnlineNIC is an accredited registrar in China. The consortium’s mission is to facilitate and promote the introduction, distribution and adoption of a new gTLD within the worldwide Internet community. Integral to this goal is establishing a wholesale price point that provides adequate incentive to registrars to offer registration on a consistent and equitable basis for all interested parties. dotTV has 64 employees.

    The revenue model includes a wholesale price to registrars of $3.50 per domain site. In the 50 percent confidence model, this organization is projecting 10 million registrations at the end of year 5. The financial model also includes an initial capital investment of $10 million that will include equity investments from each of the partners.
  2. ICANN’s Evaluation.
    The strengths in this application lie in its understanding of the general Internet marketplace. Overall, the weaknesses are that the assumptions and pro-forma financial figures are the same as its other application for the personal name domain space. These two competitive spaces have different competitive profiles and will also have different demand expectations as well as different adoption curves. Overall, there are other applications that are stronger in this category from a business perspective.

D. Summary of Public Comments
  1. Number of Comments.
  2. Support for the Application.
    Several comments expressed support for the dotPro Consortium.

    “What I like about their proposal is that it does not aim at enriching a single corporation.”

    “The job of the internet is not to lend legitimacy to anyone's claim to a certain status or membership, and I think for this reason the dotPRO application makes more sense.”
  3. Opposition to Application.
    Several comments focused on the fact that dotTV is a member of this consortium and that Dotpro plans to keep all of the 2nd level domain names for themselves.

    “I strenuously object to awarding any TLD to a group which contains DOT TV as a member. … Dot TV is an attractive business partner but is equally unattractive as a purveyor of public trust and well being. Dot TV has taken the art of cybersquating to a new level and I hope ICANN does it's due diligence when assessing the sincerity of this proposal.”
  4. Substantive Comments and/or Questions.
    “The market opportunity for the .pro domains is pretty obvious. I think that medical/legal and other regulatory bodies should have some say in how these gTLDs are sold.”

    “The job of the internet is not to lend legitimacy to anyone's claim to a certain status or membership, and I think for this reason the dotPRO application makes more sense.”

    “[T]he concept of a .pro needs a closer look. There are other professionals than doctors and lawyers who may want a .pro identification, and what process determines "acceptance" into this TLD?”