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Batching, a term that became especially popular during ICANN 42 in Dakar, refers to the process of dividing applications for the new gTLD program into batches. Given that ICANN expected to receive over 1,000 applications, and that they knew their staff could not process over 500 applications at a time, the Board decided that it would be necessary to create separate batches to process the applications. This immediately worried potential applicants, as it was unclear whether a lottery or a system that would reward early application would be implemented. Kurt Pritz, ICANN senior vice president of stakeholder relations, clarified during the GNSO special session in Dakar that there is no advantage for early or later applications. He pointed out that all applications submitted within the deadline will have equal chances to be included in any batch.
In December, 2011, just weeks before the window opened, the Board held a special meeting, where they further discussed the batching process. It was made clear that a lottery would not be used, nor would an application submitted earlier than another have an advantage. Still, the system was not defined and it was clear that they would continue to formulate this process as they received applications and progressed towards the orignal April, 2012 deadline. The Board decided that all global regions would be fairly represented in each batch, and that there would be an opt-out mechanism for non-priority applications.
- Main page: Digital Archery
Digital archery was a mechanism developed by ICANN to determine the processing time or batch slots for each gTLD application using "target time variance." Digital archery was approved by ICANN during a special meeting of the ICANN Board on March 28. 2012, There was significant backlash against the digital archery system, with many applicants arguing for the delay or cancellation of the system. Following complaints that there were unexpected variances in the results of the process due to various circumstances, including network latency, it was suspended on June 23, 2012, and then officially cancelled on June 28th. No alternative was immediately named.
ICANN proceeded to conduct Initial Evaluation on all applications concurrently, estimating completion around June/ July 2013. Kurt Pritz stated that he expects some form of "metering," instead of batching, will still be necessary, as implementing more than 1000 TLDs into the root zone in one year could cause instability. Following the close of the batching comment period, on August 19th, 2012, ICANN will take six weeks to process all of the comments and come up with an adequate solution. They aimed to reconcile the issue by late September/the beginning of October.
On October 10, 2012, ICANN announced that it had designed a metering program to determine the order in which applicants would proceed towards implementation, and it would be a manual draw. A chance-based process such as this had initially been avoided due to California's lottery laws, which apply to ICANN as it is headquartered in California, but the organization for a non-profit, "fundraising" exemption permit in order to be allowed to run the lottery system.
The lottery, renamed a "Prioritization Draw", will take place from December 12th through December 16th, 2012 at Hilton Los Angeles Airport Hotel in Los Angeles, with the final draw taking place on the morning of December 17th, 2012. Tickets for the Prioritization Draw cost USD $100.00 per ticket, with one application per ticket. The number pulled in the draw would determine the order in which applications proceed, first with the release of their Initial Evaluation, and then with their potential contention or formal objections, GAC or otherwise. Applicants that pass the Initial Evaluation and have no other outstanding issues can elect to go directly on to signing the general Registry Agreement, or to negotiate a different agreement with ICANN.<refname="announcement"></ref>
ICANN estimated that this system should speed up the implementation of new gTLDs; new gTLDs will be released beginning in the second quarter of 2013, rather than the earlier estimate of the fourth quarter of 2013/first quarter of 2014. Initial evaluation results will be released at a rate of about 150 per week starting in March, 2013 Contracts and pre-delegation testing will be done at a rate of about 20 per week, which allows for about 1,000 new gTLDs to be introduced in any given year. IDN new gTLD applications will be given priority in the process; ICANN has explained that this is in the interest of better diversifying the Internet internationally.
ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé explains the new system:
- ICANN New gTLDs Details Dominate Debate at ICANN 42, DomainNews.com
- New gTLDs: no advantage to applying early
- ICANN Leaves New gTLD Batching and Support Quest, DomainIncite.com
- ICANN approves “digital archery” gTLD batching
- Digital Archery Suspended, icann.org
- ICANN cancels Digital Archery program, has no immediate alternative, itworld.com
- New gTLDs Webinar, 8 Aug 2012, icann.org
- [New gTLD winners could be named June 2013 New gTLD winners could be named June 2013, domainincite.com]
- Announcement, ICANN.org
- Announcement 2 10Oct12, ICANN.org. Published 10 October 2012.
- New gTLD Prioritization Draw, ICANN.org.
- New gTLD Winners Will be Decided by Lottery After All, DomainIncite.com.