Tobias Sattler Talks About ICANN’s Second Round Of New Top-Level Domains

ICANN's second round

There is growing chatter in the domains community of the second round of ICANN’s New Domain Extensions Program. The first round of ICANN’s new top-level domains was held in April 2012 where over 1200 new domain extensions were allotted to various registries. ICANN’s second round is rumored to take place sometime in 2023.

We spoke with Domain Name expert and CTO and Board Member at United Domains, Tobias Sattler to shed light on the second round of ICANN’s new top-level domains program. Tobias also shared valuable insights on the critical topic of DNS abuse and the possible solution to it. Read on!

What are your thoughts about ICANN round 2? When do you think the next round will take place?

Tobias Sattler - ICANN's Second Round

Tobias Sattler

There are many different perspectives on this question. (1) Internet users: Is it relevant for them whether there are additional endings or not? (2) Brand owners: How can I best protect my brand and achieve a marketing effect? (3) Community: Will additional TLDs lead to confusion or security issues? How can I make it as simple as possible? (4) Investors: Can I introduce a new TLD, make it successful and earn money with it? (5) Stakeholders: How will my interests be protected? How can I exert influence?

There are no simple answers to those questions. Many were discussed in detail in the run-up to the 1st round and preparation for the 2nd round. In a multi-stakeholder environment, we must rely on a compromise. Nonetheless, I think we are better prepared for round 2 than we were for round 1. Furthermore, diversity and competition are fundamentally positive, and demand will shape the market.

Everything seems to be heading for a start in 2023. Although we have to reckon with postponements, I believe 2023 is a good guess.

What would you like to see from the process this time that wasn’t there last time?

Communication is vital. In the last round, many participants did not know what they needed, what they had to do, what came next, what pitfalls there could be, whom to turn to, and how they could solve difficulties.

In short, everyone gained experience over the last couple of years and is now better prepared for the next round. Therefore, consider asking someone to help you instead of solving everything yourself if you are new.

What are your thoughts about the previous fee structure and how it could be improved or changed?

The application fees were very high. I cannot determine whether they were justified, but a considerable amount of money circulated through the TLD auctions.

Based on the experience gained, scaling, and reusability, the costs should be lower. How much less will become apparent when the application process starts.

How will ICANN evaluate each application? Will there be a different set of rules and restrictions in the second round?

The ICANN community evaluated the last round, and a policy development process called New gTLD Subsequent Procedures PDP kicked off years ago. In multiple work tracks, the community took a look at the last round and how to improve it. The work concluded this year.

However, the Applicant Guidebook has not been released yet. It is safe to assume that there will be improvements. I would highlight that the pre-approval for back-end providers the technical testing can speed up and ensure that the review process is as quick as possible.

We all saw the transformation brought by the first round in the domain industry. What changes are likely to be bought by the second round in the domain industry?

One of the most significant changes in the first round was introducing more dynamic pricing, or the early access phase, replacing the classic landrush phase. Almost all applicants followed the traditional approach, and only a few tried to break new ground by prescribing the use cases accordingly.

For the next round, we have to wait and see whether a new attempt will be made to directly connect value-added services with the domain and how much the community will accept this. I expect difficulties for many providers offering competing services.

DNS abuse has been a very important topic recently and many parties in the ICANN community are looking for a ‘solution’ or a way to fix DNS abuse. What are your thoughts on DNS abuse in general and do you have an idea of what that ‘solution’ looks like?

DNS abuse is not a new issue. Depending on how narrowly or how broadly the term is defined, DNS abuse has been around for decades.

In recent years, the topic has shifted into focus due to ongoing digitization, increasing Internet users, and partly due to society’s dependence on the Internet.

Many stakeholders are looking for a silver bullet to solve DNS abuse, but it is a marathon, not a sprint. There is no simple solution for all these cases, stakeholders, and pitfalls.

Unfortunately, there are only a few stakeholders with a balanced view. In my opinion, we will only fix DNS abuse if we listen to all stakeholders and try to understand their points of view.