101domain recently attended ICANN 77, where the community gathered to discuss the status of the next round of the New gTLD Program. This program allows brands the opportunity to apply for a .brand TLD that can be utilized internally or a generic TLD that caters to specific industries such as .bank or .law, or the public in general. ICANN has been making strides in preparation for the upcoming round, and we are excited to share with you a summary of the latest developments coming from the meeting and everything there is to know now on how and when you can apply for your very own top level domain extension.
What is the New gTLD Program?
Back in 2011, ICANN introduced the groundbreaking New Generic Top Level Domain (ngTLD) Program, which attracted over 1,900 applications for new gTLDs. In 2013 the first new gTLDs were delegated, and since then, many popular top level domains have come to fruition, including the likes of .xyz, .online, .shop, .site, .store, and .app.
Dates & Deadlines
ICANN’s implementation plan and schedule will be released in the first week of August. We expect this will set the application cost, submission window and deadlines, and the number of applications that will be accepted.
The Registry Service Provider (RSP) Guidebook will be published that will set requirements for any registries participating in the process.
The pre-application process will begin with applicants selecting an RSP vendor to provide technical backend assistance for the proposed new TLD in accordance with the required obligations from the guidebook.
ICANN’s early estimate to open the application window is expected to begin in the second or third quarter of 2026.
It’s important to note that some of these dates are estimates and subject to change. As we’ve seen in the past with ICANN’s processes, dates may change, as the program continues through community development.
To Be Determined & Community Discussion
Although most of the community is pushing for ICANN to achieve deliverables as efficiently and quickly as possible, ICANN is planning on moving procedurally and incrementally. The first step is approving the implementation plan, preparing the RSP Guidebook, vetting RSPs, training staff on the program requirements, and supporting an outreach program to increase applications from less-served regions, e.g. Africa, Asia, Latin America.
We agree with the community that ICANN could and should meet a more aggressive timeline by working on parallel tracks such as the IT infrastructure and RSP vetting programs concurrently. ICANN could also recycle many parts of the last round’s RSP Guidebook from 2012, instead of creating an entirely new document. The same could be said for the outreach program. We believe ICANN should start the outreach program as soon as the window is scheduled, and not put an unnecessary start date that doesn’t begin until 18 months prior to the application window. Doing so would allow the community to receive updated information in real time.
Costs & Planning
The initial estimates of the application costs are $240,000-$280,000 per application (for reference, the first round application fee was $185,000). The community (and we agree) feels that this seems excessive. If this becomes the actual cost, then those funds should be used to increase the manpower to expedite the program timeline and application process.
Although this next round is 24-36 months away from applicants being able to draft their new gTLD applications, it is important to have these internal conversations early to delegate the budget for the application costs, review the Applicant Guidebook (the last round had over 130 pages), and have adequate time to select an RSP from the approved vendors list before the application window opens.
The industry has grown by leaps and bounds since the last round, and it is fair to assume that there will be more applicants in this round, in addition to the surplus ICANN still has from the last round.
If you are interested in applying for a TLD, it is in your best interest to be prepared on day one, as the review process could become bogged down by an influx of applicants and will have a limit on the number of applications allowed.
Apply for Your Own TLD with 101domain
If you’d like to stay abreast of all the developments, please reach out to your dedicated account executive or any member of our corporate team. We will be working closely with ICANN and RSPs and are happy to offer our assistance and guidance in this process.
Give us a call today +1.888.982.7940
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