ICANN recently published materials describing discussions, public comment and general progress on the New gTLD program. One area that has attracted particular interest is the timeline for moving forward.
If you have been following this program, you know that predicting timelines has been problematic because progress depends on community reaction to proposals and ensuring those proposals have been or will be considered.
The recent New gTLD announcement states that the next version of the Applicant Guidebook will be published in April – not long after the GAC–Board of Directors consultations in Brussels and at the Silicon Valley-San Francisco public meeting. The announcement simply refers to publication of the “Applicant Guidebook;” it does not state if it is “final” or if it would be posted for public comment.
That’s because a decision on timing and posting of a final Guidebook cannot be made yet. It’s up to the Board to decide on the disposition of the Guidebook and other program aspects, and that can’t happen until the GAC consultations conclude and the Board has a chance to listen to the community at the Silicon Valley meeting. They could decide on the launch of the process and could specify a different timing for publication.
So it would have been appropriate to mark the timeline we posted as “draft” or “proposed”; we’ll do that now. We aim to publish the Guidebook as soon as possible. The ICANN team and many community members are working diligently to complete the work: considering comments and amendments, drafting text, improving protections and consulting with community members.
Even at an accelerated pace, comments and open issues are being carefully considered and discussed. I hope that is evident in the quality and quantity of materials provided. We look forward to productive meetings with the Board and GAC and will provide more information on the timeline and the new gTLD launch as soon as it is available.