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EOI stands for Expression of Interest. It was proposed by applicants and proponents for new gTLDs as an effort to speed up the process of applications to the ICANN Board for consideration. ICANN passed a resolution in Seoul on December, 2009, and it was first published on 18 December, 2009 for public comment. As per the EOI, companies who were interested in the new gTLD Program were required to submit their basic information.

There were substantial contributions gathered in the EOI process at the 37th International Meeting in Nairobi. It raised concerns about the support to the process of EOI. However, the GAC questioned the benefits of pursuing any other separate EOI as it was of the view that it would create distractions and would destabilize resources from finalizing the new generic Top Level Domain Programs (gTLD).[1]

Highlights of draft EOI

Some of the highlights of the draft EOI are as follows:

  • To be eligible to submit a gTLD application in the first round, participation in the EOI is mandatory. Only eligible applicants would be allowed to participate in the subsequent application rounds.
  • A deposit of US$55,000 is required for the EOI. This deposit would be used as a credit against the evaluation fee of US$185,000.
  • This deposit is refundable provided that there is any delay in the launch of new gTLD Program.
  • The Final Draft Applicant Guidebook is subject to amendments. This is mostly done with the intention of closing current open issues before the initiation of the EOI process.
  • A full-fledged communications campaign will precede the opening of the process with the sole motive of ensuring global awareness about the EOI.
  • Specific information concerning the participating entity and the requested string needs to be provided by the participants.
  • The participant’s information as well as the string information will be made public.[1]

Benefit of EOI in gTLDs

The applicants community was determined that proceeding the new gTLD Program with EOI had several potential benefits, with these benefits outweighing the expenses that mght occur with any further delay of the new gTLD program. They also believed that the EOI would create a certainty about the date at which all the issues would be resolved to the best of the Board’s interest.

The community was also of the view that the EOI in the new gTLDs Program would provide ICANN and its potential applicants with all the vital information about the level of interest of people in the program. This in turn helps to assist in solving other key issues and gives a framework for the upcoming new gTLDs round. They also believed that the EOI coupled with a financial deposit would help to have a good understanding of the following things:

  • The economic demand for new gTLDs
  • The number of gTLDs applications
  • A better understanding of the gTLDs operational readiness plan

Response of ICANN

ICANN voted down the community proposal for EOI for new gTLDs application, which required a $55,000 application fee.[2] ICANN identified some challenges in the proposed EOI and hence directed its staff to study the impact of a call for formal EOI and study the risk analysis related with proposed actions in order to view the possible challenges. In response to this, the staff of ICANN came forward with an analysis of the benefits EOI would offer. The staff had also developed a primary EOI process model to be discussed by the ICANN Board.[3]