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ICANN Montevideo Meeting Topic: New TLD Agreements

Posted: 5 September 2001

New TLD Agreements

One of the topics on the agenda for the ICANN Public Forum on Sunday, 9 September 2001, is the status of completion of the agreements with those proposing the seven new top-level domains (TLDs) that were selected by the ICANN Board in November 2000 for the ongoing "proof of concept" introduction. At its meeting on 10 September 2001, the ICANN Board will consider the status of the negotiations of these agreements and authorizations for moving forward.

Of the seven new TLDs selected, four (.biz, .info, name, and .pro) are unsponsored TLDs (sometimes known as uTLDs) and three (.aero, .coop, and .museum) are sponsored TLDs (sometimes known as sTLDs).

Status of Discussions. The status of the development of the agreements has been posted on the "New TLD Status Page" maintained on ICANN's web site. This page is used to link to parts of the various agreements as they are developed and agreed with the sponsors and operators of the new TLDs. Since February, a web-based public comment forum has been maintained to allow public comment on the process of negotiating and developing the agreements.

The following summarizes the current status:

Unsponsored TLDs.Agreements have been completed and signed for three (.biz, .info, and .name) of the uTLDs. These three agreements use a common form of base agreement (actually, there are two versions with a minor variation), and the remaining uTLD (.pro) has indicated it is willing to employ that base agreement as well. To allow necessary customization, the agreement has 25 appendices. Thirteen of the .pro appendices have been completed and posted.

Sponsored TLDs.A basic form of sTLD agreement has been developed and all three sTLDs have indicated they find it acceptable. This agreement has 23 attachments to allow customization.

Discussions with one of the sponsors (MuseDoma of .museum) have been nearly completed since about 20-22 August, when the basic agreement and the key attachments were posted. As of 5 September, five attachments still must be completed (requiring XML schema verification, etc.), but it is expected these will be completed by the time of the 9 September 2001 ICANN Public Forum, so that final comment on this agreement may be received and the Board may be asked to consider approval at its 10 September 2001 meeting. The agreement with MuseDoma is in accord with the proposal it made that led to its selection and ICANN management recommends that it be approved.

Discussions with a second sponsor (SITA of .aero) have also been proceeding toward completion. There are still a few significant attachments to be completed (notably the start-up plan). In major progress on one issue, SITA has obtained a ruling from the ISO 3166 Maintenance Agency that the Maintenance Agency does not object to use of two-character airline designator codes as second-level domains within .aero, in view of the low likelihood of confusion with two-letter country codes based on the longstanding (over 50 years) IATA standard creating that coding system for airlines. Completion of the .aero agreement with SITA in accord with its proposal that was selected in November 2000 should be attainable inthe next few weeks. ICANN management recommends that the 7-day notice procedure adopted in Melbourne for the the uTLD agreements be extended to .aero.

Way Forward for .pro and .coop

In the course of negotiations, the proponents of the .pro (unsponsored) and .coop (sponsored) TLDs have indicated that they wish to make significant changes to the plans of operation of their TLDs that they included in their proposals last year. In the case of .pro, the selected operator (Registry Pro) has indicated that it wishes to revise its plans to reduce the level of financial commitments it will make to launch the .pro TLD. In the case of .coop, the selected operator (NCBA) has requested to change from the competitive models it proposed at the registrar level (through use of competitive registrars after a six-month start-up period) and registry levels (through rebidding after start up to replace the inital registry operator) to long-term sole-source models at both levels. In view of continuing discussions regarding these proposed changes for .pro and .coop, it does not appear appropriate for the Board to act on these agreements at this time. Instead, discussions should go forward between ICANN and both RegistryPro and NCBA regarding measures that might be taken to fashion appropriate adjustments that are consistent with the spirit of their proposals. Additional time is needed for discussions that might develop concrete proposals, which can then be presented.

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