TLD Timeline Knock On Effects?

Icann Lisbon 2007

Icann Lisbon 2007 (Photo credit: blacknight)

Today is April 28th.

At this stage ICANN should have already announced the new TLD applicants or been in a position to do so within a couple of days.

Unfortunately they aren’t going to be able to make any announcement and when they’ll be able to do so is still unclear.

The new TLD application system is still offline.

The most recent update on the TAS outage is not exactly heartening:

ICANN will notify all applicants within the next seven business days whether our analysis shows they were affected by the technical glitch in the TLD application system.

In order to make these notifications, we are identifying each applicant file name and user name that might have been viewed, and who might have viewed them. To do that, we are reviewing internal system logs and full packet-level capture of all traffic to and from the application system from 12 January through 12 April.

Our analysis continues to show that a limited number of applicants were affected.

Shortly after the notification process has been completed, we will announce the schedule for reopening the application system and completing the application period. We are mindful of the need to allow sufficient time during the reopening period for applicants to confirm the completeness of their submissions.

We are also continuing to test the fix and enhance system performance in preparation for reopening.

We fully understand the frustration and inconvenience caused by the continuing suspension of the application system and will provide further updates as new information becomes available.

I’ve read and re-read that text several times now and I’m still unsure as to what it actually means in real terms.

Working on the assumption that it will take them up to 7 working days to complete the notification process then we’re looking at the middle of the week after next before any announcement of the system being re-opened. That takes us through to May 9th.

So allowing another 1 or 2 working days after that, the earliest that the application system could be re-opened is probably May 11th or May 14th. They’ll need to leave it open for a week, so the earliest it could close fully is May 18th or May 21st. That means that the two week period after closure prior to the “big reveal” gets us into June. Let’s say June 4th at the earliest.

So we’re potentially looking at the “big reveal” being made less than 3 weeks before the next public meeting in Prague?

Does the announcement coming, potentially, that close to the Prague meeting have any other consequences?

Potentially – yes.

The weeks running up to any ICANN public meeting have traditionally been very busy with respect to document deadlines, meeting slots being booked and a whole lot more.

One would have expected that at least some part of the Prague meeting would be devoted to “next steps” in the new TLD project. That’s probably still going to happen, assuming that the timeline I’ve outlined is respected ie. that the deadlines don’t slip more than they have already. But there’s also a lot of other stuff going on behind the scenes, or that should be going on behind the scenes, that hasn’t quite happened yet and with a shorter timeline could be disrupted.

ICANN is yet to announce a new CEO. It’s not clear what is causing the delay in making the announcement, but it was expected to happen around now. So far there have been plenty of rumours, but no actual facts. The current CEO has been very quiet over the last few weeks, as I mentioned previously.

New TLD applicants have investors. How are those investors coping with these delays? How are the applicants able to manage their expectations? While some of the new TLD applicants have been involved in ICANN for many years and are probably used to delays and shifting timelines, there are a lot of new people involved in this process. They’re probably not as used to this kind of delay especially when you consider the sums of money involved.

For many stakeholders the new TLD process is key, but for many others it’s simply background noise.

Internet governance and how industry, users and government interact with each other has become a much hotter topic in recent months. Time magazine’s Top 100 for 2012 includes many individuals whose influence and impact would not have been felt without the internet. It also include “Anonymous”.

Government, law enforcement and others have been putting increased pressure on organisations such as ICANN.

What that means in practical terms is that people who sit between government and organisations such as ICANN are going to have an increasingly difficult time justifying their support of the multi-stakeholder model if ICANN is not seen to be decisive NOW.

Of course I could be completely wrong ..

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