IANA Report on the Delegation of the .TEL Top-Level Domain(Date: 22 January 2007)
The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), as part of the administrative functions associated with management of the domain-name system root, is responsible for receiving requests for delegation and redelegation of top-level domains, investigating the circumstances pertinent to those requests, and reporting on the requests. This report provides the findings and conclusions of the IANA on the delegation of the .TEL Top Level Domain (TLD).
There are several types of TLDs within the DNS, including TLDs with three or more characters referred to as “generic” TLDs, or “gTLDs.” They can be subdivided into two types, “sponsored” TLDs (sTLDs) and “unsponsored” TLDs, as described in more detail below.
Generally speaking, an unsponsored TLD operates under policies established by the global Internet community directly through the ICANN process, while a sponsored TLD is a specialized TLD that has a sponsor representing the narrower community that is most affected by the TLD. The sponsor thus carries out delegated policy-formulation responsibilities over many matters concerning the TLD.
A Sponsor is an organization to which is delegated some defined ongoing policy-formulation authority regarding the manner in which a particular sponsored TLD is operated. The sponsored TLD has a charter which defines the purpose for which the sponsored TLD has been created and will be operated. The Sponsor is responsible for developing policies on the delegated topics so that the TLD is operated for the benefit of a defined group of stakeholders known as the Sponsored TLD Community and who are most directly interested in the operation of the TLD. The Sponsor is also responsible for selecting the registry operator and, to varying degrees, establishing the roles played by registrars and their relationship with the registry operator. The Sponsor must exercise its delegated authority according to fairness standards and in a manner that is representative of the Sponsored TLD Community.
The extent to which policy-formulation responsibilities are appropriately delegated to a Sponsor depends upon the characteristics of the organization that may make such delegation appropriate. These characteristics may include the mechanisms the organization uses to formulate policies, its mission, its guarantees of independence from the registry operator and registrars, which individuals or entities will be permitted to participate in the Sponsor's policy-development efforts and in what way, and the Sponsor's degree and type of accountability to the Sponsored TLD Community.
On 26 June 2003, at the ICANN Board meeting in Montreal, the Board directed ICANN staff to invite public comment on a draft request for proposals for sTLDs posted on 24 June 2003, and in particular on the question whether the RFP should be limited to applicants that had proposed sponsored TLDs in November 2000. The public comments are available at ICANN’s website at http://forum.icann.org/mtg-cmts/stld-rfp-comments/general/index.html.
In parallel with the public comments, the ICANN Board discussed at length the topic of how, and within what timeframe, ICANN should proceed with the creation of new gTLDs, including sTLDs. On 29 October 2003, the GNSO called upon the Board to initiate a process for an interim round of sTLDs.
Following various community discussions, including input by experts and interested parties through the GNSO, and from users both directly and through the At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC), on 31 October 2003, at its meeting in Carthage, Tunisia, the ICANN Board directed the ICANN President to finalize and post no later than 15 December 2003 an open Request for Proposals, not restricted to prior applicants, for a limited number of new sTLDs. The final RFP was to be based on these conclusions and the comments received concerning the posted draft.
In response to this direction, on 15 December 2003, ICANN announced and released the request for proposals (RFP) for sTLDs. The RFP was divided into six parts, see http://www.icann.org/tlds/new-stld-rfp/new-stld-application-parta-15dec03.htm. The first part provided explanatory notes on the application and evaluation process, as well as on the type of information requested by ICANN. The remaining parts constituted the application itself.
The RFP’s explanatory notes described the selection criteria, which were in brief:
The technical standards included “evidence of ability to ensure stable registry operation,” “evidence of ability to ensure that the registry conforms with best practice technical standards for registry operations,” “evidence of a full range of registry services,” and “assurance of continuity of registry operation in the event of business failure of the proposed registry.”
The business plan had to “demonstrate the applicant's methodology for introducing a new sTLD and the ability of the organization to implement a robust and appropriately resourced organization.” The financial model had to “outline the financial, technical and operational capabilities of the organization.”
The sponsorship information had to include a “definition of sponsored TLD community,” “evidence of support from the Sponsoring Organization,” “appropriateness of the Sponsoring Organization and the policy formulation environment,” and “level of support from the Community.” In addition, the criteria of “community value” had to be demonstrated by the “addition of new value to the Internet name space,” protections for “the rights of others,” “assurance of charter-compliant registrations and avoidance of abusive registration practices,” “assurance of adequate dispute-resolution mechanisms,” and “provision of ICANN-policy compliant WHOIS service.”
ICANN received 10 applications for new sTLDs before close of the application period on 16 March 2004. Applications were received for the following 9 sTLD strings: .ASIA, .CAT, .JOBS, .MAIL, .MOBI, .POST, .TEL, .TRAVEL and .XXX. Two different applicants submitted applications for .TEL. The public parts of the ten applications were posted on the ICANN website at http://www.icann.org/tlds/stld-apps-19mar04/stld-public-comments.htm for public comment. The public comments received were posted at the same location.
An independent panel of experts with substantial knowledge of relevant technical, business/financial and policy areas was established to review and evaluate the applications. The internationally diverse panel was separated into three teams, with each one focused on technical, business/financial or policy areas. The teams began their work in May 2004 and completed their reports in July 2004. The independent review procedures ensured that all communications involving the evaluations were made through the Project Manager and as such, the review was blind between the teams and ICANN staff and between the teams and the applicants. The identity of the experts serving on the evaluation teams is confidential until conclusion of the evaluation process.
Each of the three review teams met six to eight times by teleconference. Each team posed a series of questions to applicants that sought clarification of points relevant to evaluation of the applications against the RFP criteria. Each team provided a separate report, assessing the information in the applications against the criteria – technical, business/financial and sponsorship/community value – that they were charged with evaluating.
In the case where an applicant passed all three sets of criteria and there were no other issues associated with the application, it proceeded to technical and commercial negotiations designed to establish a new sTLD.
In cases where an evaluation team indicated that a set of criteria was not met, or other issues had to be addressed, ICANN gave each applicant an opportunity to submit clarifying or additional documentation.
The registry operator and sponsoring organization for the .TEL sTLD is Telnic Limited, a private limited company incorporated in the United Kingdom. The registry operator selected NeuStar Inc. to provide back-end registry services.
Each of the three evaluation teams described above reviewed the .TEL application. Their recommendations were transmitted to ICANN on 12 July 2004.
The technical evaluation team noted concerns about the applicant’s ability to ensure stable registry operation; conform with best practice technical standards for registry operation; as well as potential start-up problems with registrars. The technical evaluation team was unable to conduct an evaluation on the full range of registry services proposed by Telnic; conduct an evaluation on escrow operations or continuity in the event of business failure of the proposed registry. The team concluded that .TEL did not at that time meet the technical selection criteria set forth in the RFP.
The business/financial evaluation team determined that Telnic did not meet the business and financial criteria set forth in the RFP.
The sponsorship/community value evaluation team found that the applicant did not meet all relevant criteria. The team indicated that “the application defines an enormously broad community of users,” noted potential problems with the proposed policymaking structure for the sTLD, and questioned the evidence of support from members of the proposed user community. The team also questioned whether the .TEL sTLD added value to the name space.
ICANN wrote to Telnic on 31 July 2004 to provide a status report on the work of the evaluation teams. On 25 August 2004, Telnic provided a response to the issues raised by the three evaluation teams. The technical evaluation team responded to Telnic on 27 November 2004.
On 21 March 2005, ICANN’s Board of Directors directed ICANN’s President “to provide the Board with more information from the technical evaluators and applicants regarding the technical aspects of the .TEL sTLD application.” (http://www.icann.org/minutes/minutes-21mar05.htm).
On 14 April 2005, the ICANN Board directed questions to the technical evaluation team. Based on those questions, Telnic clarified its responses on 24 May 2005, and the technical evaluation team responded on 3 June 2005.
On 28 June 2005, after review of the above-mentioned information and materials, ICANN’s Board of Directors authorized the entry of commercial and technical negotiations with Telnic (http://www.icann.org/minutes/minutes-28jun05.htm).
On 7 April 2006, ICANN announced the completion of negotiations and posted the proposed .TEL Registry Agreement for public comment prior to Board consideration (http://www.icann.org/announcements/announcement-07apr06.htm).
The agreement was then submitted to the ICANN Board for consideration at a Special Meeting of the Board on 10 May 2006. On 10 May 2006, the ICANN Board “determined that approval of the agreement and delegation of a .TEL sponsored top-level domain to Telnic would be beneficial for ICANN and the Internet community,” http://www.icann.org/minutes/minutes-10may06.htm.
On 25 May 2006, ICANN and Telnic signed the .TEL Registry Agreement (http://www.icann.org/tlds/agreements/tel/).
On 30 November 2006, Telnic submitted a delegation template to IANA. Due to technical issues with Telnic’s name servers, IANA administratively closed the delegation request without prejudice. Telnic was advised to resubmit its delegation request when it had resolved the name server issues.
IANA and Telnic met during the ICANN Annual Meeting in Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2-8 December 2006. Telnic advised ICANN staff that it was completing contract negotiations with its back-end registry operator and would resubmit the delegation template to IANA once its new name servers were in place.
On 18 January 2007, Telnic submitted a new delegation template to IANA, which lists Telnic Limited as the requested Sponsoring Organization. The designated Administrative and Technical Contact is listed as Telnic Limited. IANA conducted a review of the delegation template and successful test of the proposed name servers.
This report is being provided under the contract for performance of the IANA function (http://www.icann.org/general/iana-contract-14aug06.pdf) between the United States Government and ICANN. Under that contract, ICANN performs the IANA function, which includes receiving delegation and redelegation requests concerning TLDs (http://www.icann.org/general/iana-contract-14aug06.pdf, Section C.18.104.22.168), investigating the circumstances pertinent to those requests, making its recommendations, and reporting actions undertaken in connection with processing such requests. In acting on delegation requests, the IANA currently follows the practices summarized in “Internet Domain Name System Structure and Delegation.” (ICP-1, http://www.icann.org/icp/icp-1.htm) ICP-1 represents an update of the portions of RFC 1591 (http://www.rfc-editor.org/rfc/rfc1591.txt) dealing with TLDs, which was issued in March 1994, and reflects subsequent documents and evolution of the policies followed by the IANA through May 1999.
As discussed above, the application for .TEL was approved by ICANN after an open request for proposals involving several opportunities for public review and comment, evaluation by an independent panel of experts, and review by the ICANN Board. As described above, three teams of experts reviewed the .TEL application against the specified technical, business/financial and sponsorship/community criteria, respectively, laid out in the RFP and recommended approval. The teams’ recommendations were then reviewed by the ICANN Board, which approved the applicant proceeding to negotiations. Subsequent to successful conclusion of these negotiations, the Board approved a Sponsored TLD Registry Agreement for .TEL, see http://www.icann.org/minutes/minutes-10may06.htm.
ICANN has now completed contractual arrangements with Telnic Limited for the introduction of a new sponsored .TEL TLD.
Based on the foregoing evaluation, IANA concludes that the proposed delegation will promote service to the Internet community and will help assure the continued Internet interoperability through the global technical coordination that ICANN was created to provide. IANA concludes that the .TEL sTLD should be established and delegated to Telnic Limited.