The Brand Registry Group is to propose a set of principles for the next round of ICANN’s new gTLD program that it thinks would see the initial application fee slashed by more than half and some evaluations starting as early as this October.
Under the proposals, TLD-curious applicants could get into the system for as little as $100,000 per string, about $150,000 lower than ICANN’s current estimate, and could see ICANN accepting applications as early as April 2025.
The recommendations, drafted by GoDaddy’s Tony Kirsch and Pharos Global’s Michael Palage, will be presented at a session on Saturday, the first day of ICANN’s 76th public meeting, in Cancun, Mexico.
They’re calling the proposals “Option 2a”, a reference to the two options laid out in ICANN’s Operational Design Assessment of the next round, which was completed in December.
The plan would allow applicants to pay $100,000 to submit a bare-bones application and test the waters in terms of contention, objections and similarity. They could then choose to withdraw before submitting the financial and technical portions of their bid.
Applicants with straightforward applications (presumably including most dot-brands) would have a lower overall cost than those who need additional reviews, contention resolution and objection processing.
The paper also criticizes the “astonishing” estimate of a $400 million program development cost, suggesting instead that ICANN repurpose its existing tools such as Salesforce to roll out the application submission system.
It reckons ICANN could start its Registry Service Provider Pre-Evaluation Program, based on the process it already uses when registries switch back-ends, in October this year.
If ICANN adopts the proposals, the BRG reckons a final Applicant Guidebook could be approved in October 2024, with applications accepted from April 2025.