Next Round of New gTLDs

ICANN starts Operational Design Phase to plan the implementation of the next application round 

It’s taken a while for ICANN to scope out the Operational Design Phase (ODP), a new process introduced by ICANN org which promised to streamline the implementation work ahead.

After the GNSO Council approved the Final Report of the Subsequent Procedures PDP Working Group at the start of the year, ICANN’s Board has only now instructed staff to move into the planning phase. The Board still has to make a decision on whether to approve the Final Report and its outputs but this will not happen until after the completion of the ODP.

The Board’s resolution provides the CEO with $9m funding to conduct the ODP which could take up to 10 months to complete.  In response to concerns raised by the community, including the BRG, the Board “considered that the work done during the ODP is expected to streamline the implementation phase due to the investment in advance preparations, and thus not lead to delays in the launch of subsequent application rounds”.

In it’s rationale of the resolution it also states “ICANN org included in its estimated resource requirements a line item to investigate whether it is feasible for ICANN org to facilitate small in-person or hybrid community meeting(s), should travel and meeting conditions allow, to begin generating awareness in underserved regions regarding the potential opportunity of subsequent rounds, to initiate discussions regarding how ICANN org will provide support for linguistic needs and Internationalized Domain Names, and to provide information regarding ICANN’s mission and the goals of the new gTLD initiative.” Given the BRG’s recommendations to the Board to begin communications and awareness at an early stage, this appears to be a positive step but more details are needed to understand how and when this will materialise.

The ODP scoping document outlines the questions and areas that ICANN will need to explore and gather answers that will result in producing and delivering an Operational Design Phase Assessment. This should be a transparent process with regular updates provided by staff and feedback sought from the community on the facts, figures and assumptions used in the ODP assessment.

The BRG will continue to track progress and developments.