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New series of domain extensions: when can they be expected?

02 January 2019

After the first series of new domain extensions, from .app to .xyz, ICANN has decided that a second wave is coming. When can you expect it?  And how far have the procedures already progressed? 

New domain extensions:  a great success 

It took quite some doing before the first series of new domain extensions saw the light of day. Already in 2008,  ICANN took the initial decision to offer companies and organizations the possibility to create their own Top Level Domains, alongside the existing generic TLDs such as  .com, .bizz, .net, .org, and the country TLDs such as .be or .nl. The first round of applications got started in 2012. And then the many new domain extensions were delegated on the Internet bit by bit as of 2013. 

The pinching straightjacket of the constantly scarcer .com domains was burst open thanks to these new domain extensions.  From now on, everyone can register a domain name with an extension that serves its purpose perfectly – and at an affordable price:  no more sky-high amounts for a fine sounding .com domain name. Domain extensions were in fact launched in various categories: generic terms  (.shop, .bike, .guru); geographic concepts such as cities and regions  (.london, .amsterdam, .gent, .vlaanderen); but also brand names became possible  (.bbc, .chanel, .bmw).

In August 2018,  1,225 domain extensions were delegated, accounting for 25.1 million domain names. The top five such extensions are: .top, .loan, .xyz, .club, and .online.  New extensions are moreover being released every month, some of which are immediate hits. For instance, run by Google, .app was launched only in May 2018, but it is already used for more than 300,000 domain names.

Word cloud with food related New gTLDs

Why a second series of new domain extensions? 

The World Wide Web continues to grow. Technology is developing faster and faster. New terms become commonplace, which were not even known when the first round was completed.  And companies, which used to be suspicious about new TLDs, now see the importance of having their own brand name as their domain extension. Accordingly, in February 2012 ICANN  decided that a new round would be launched. 

Yet a number of lessons can be drawn from the first round, and various workgroups were set up for that purpose. For instance, the  Subsequent Procedures workgroup has to look into the procedures that were used and propose formulas to improve them. The Cross Community workgroup, which deals with the names of countries and regions, has to make a decision: are there to be domain names of two letters also, as in the case of the “real” country code TLDs?  

A third workgroup has to study the "All Rights Protection Mechanisms." For procedures have been created to protect registered brand names, but have they worked sufficiently well? These concern in particular TMCH (Trade Mark Clearing House), UDPR (Uniform Domain-name Dispute Resolution), URS (Uniform Rapid Suspension) and PDP (Post Delegation Policy). Furthermore, but that is a long term task, a new policy must be charted for the current WHOIS system. In the light of the GDPR legislation, that policy must be thoroughly adjusted in order to protect the privacy of the registrant. 

When can the second series of domain extensions be expected? 

You have understood that there is still a lot of work to be done. Furthermore, all the conclusions of the workgroups must be cross-checked with the general public and the stakeholders.  The provisional timeframe  is as follows: 

  • Q1 2019: the workgroups submit their final report
  • Q3 2019: ICANN Board makes recommendations and the implementation can begin 
  • Q1 2021: the first applications can be submitted to ICANN. 

This distant future will draw closer rapidly, but it  gives companies and organizations, which already run one or more new TLDs as a Registry, the necessary time to ascertain what opportunities this new round holds in store for them. Companies which have not yet launched their own brand name as a domain extension, are given the time to consider whether to register their brand name as a unique online asset, and to seek the right Internet partner that can  provide support on the technological front.  We will keep you posted.