Applicants can start the contract process but can’t sign agreements yet.
ICANN has released an update on how it’s handling potential name collisions with new top level domain names as it relates to contracting.
The group will move forward with the contracting process even on strings that fall into the “uncalculated risk” bucket – but it won’t execute the contracts just yet.
ICANN anticipates it will take 3-6 months to further study the potential effects of some of these top level domain names entering the root. It has proposed mitigation steps and a comment period on the topic ended last night (despite calls from some community members that the comment period was too short).
The contracting process has a bit of a bottleneck in it. Although hundreds of applications have been invited to contracting, only four contracts have actually been signed.
It’s likely not the contracting process itself; it’s holdups from ICANN as it tries to figure out what it’s doing with name collisions, GAC advice, etc.