Barring a flurry of activity at ICANN or changes to the name collision mitigation plan, the launch of new TLDs won’t be a 2013 event.
ICANN released updated contracting statistics for its new top level domain name program yesterday, and applicants will be sad to see that there are still just four signed registry agreements.
Although a lot of applicants are going through the process, it has been slow going.
For example, the applicant for the Arabic IDN that means “site” said it was invited to sign the registry agreement on July 25. Noting that it would take 20 hours to travel to ICANN’s office in Los Angeles, it sent a customer support request to ICANN asking if there were other signing options (e.g. electronic signing, accredited agents to sign on behalf of a registry). After three weeks, it says it hadn’t heard back.
Why the delays? There’s are lot in flux, some of which will affect the contract, so ICANN is probably trying to slow down the actual signings until the details are finalized.
The big issue is the name collision mitigation plan. This is why, barring any signings in the coming week, that no more than four TLDs could officially launch in 2013.
The name collision plan, as proposed by ICANN, would require a waiting period of at least 120 days after a registry contract is signed before any domains may be activated under the TLD.
If a contract isn’t signed by September 1, that means no names could be activated until 2014.
Registries could still go forward with their sunrise period and landrush reservations and auctions, so there might be some buzz around that. But don’t expect to be able to hand register many new TLDs at a domain name registrar until next year.