IANA Report on the Delegation of the .ASIA Top-Level Domain(Date: 12 April 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 .ASIA 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 .ASIA sTLD is DotAsia Organisation Limited (DotAsia), a not-for-profit limited guarantee corporation incorporated in Hong Kong. The registry operator has selected Afilias Limited to provide back-end registry services.
Each of the three evaluation teams described above reviewed the .ASIA application. Their recommendations were transmitted to ICANN on 12 July 2004.
The technical evaluation team recommended approval of the .ASIA application on technical grounds. The technical evaluators noted that DotAsia proposed to use Afilias as its back-end provider, “an established Registry and DNS operator with a good track record. The operations meet and exceed all ICANN standards.”
The business/financial evaluation team also determined that DotAsia met the business and financial criteria set forth in the RFP and recommended approval of the .ASIA sTLD. The business/financial evaluation team found that the DotAsia proposal represented “an impressive regional community effort” and a “clear demonstration of the applicant’s ability to implement a robust and appropriately resourced organization.”
The sponsorship/community value evaluation team found that the applicant did not meet the Sponsorship and Other Issues selection criteria set forth in the RFP. The evaluation team stated that “whilst we cannot state that this application meets the RFP criteria, we believe some of the ideas presented here are sound and innovative.” The team indicated that the community was not clearly defined given the size and diversity of the Asian region. The team was also “not persuaded that the .ASIA string would have broad recognition in the Middle East and South Pacific, where potential registrants may have difficulty relating to the .ASIA tag.”
ICANN wrote to DotAsia on 31 July 2004 to provide a status report on the work of the evaluation teams. As part of this letter, ICANN encouraged DotAsia to obtain letters of support from the appropriate Ministers or Heads of Agencies of the governments in the Asian region. On 15 September 2004, DotAsia provided a comprehensive response to the issues raised by the three evaluation teams. DotAsia also provided a summary of the proposal to the ICANN Board on 26 October 2004. Included in these materials was an extensive list of Asian ccTLDs supporting the .ASIA application.
On 10 December 2004, DotAsia provided a letter titled “Mitigating Concerns Regarding GAC ccTLD Principles.” An update on the .ASIA initiative was provided to the ICANN Board on 24 January 2005.
The ICANN Board first considered the .ASIA application on 18 February 2005 (http://www.icann.org/minutes/minutes-18feb05.htm). A motion was introduced to deny the application, and this motion failed by a 3-6 vote with 3 abstentions. No resolution was passed and the .ASIA application was not approved or denied during this meeting.
On 3 May 2005, the ICANN Board approved a resolution 12-0 to request ICANN staff to obtain from DotAsia additional information on DotAsia’s compliance with Section 8.3 of the ICANN Government Advisory Committee’s Principles for Delegation and Administration of ccTLDs (http://www.icann.org/minutes/minutes-03may05.htm) and report back within 90 days.
Based on the ICANN Board’s instructions, DotAsia provided a further update to the ICANN Board on 5 August 2005 on the subject of communications with governments in the Asian region.
On 4 December 2005, after review of the above-mentioned information and materials, ICANN’s Board of Directors authorized the commencement of commercial and technical negotiations with DotAsia (http://www.icann.org/minutes/minutes-04dec05.htm).
On 18 July 2006, the ICANN Board provided ICANN staff with a “Sense of the Board” relating to the posting of the proposed .ASIA Registry Agreement and proposed renewal agreements for .BIZ, .INFO and .ORG (http://www.icann.org/minutes/minutes-18jul06.htm). The Board directed that the proposed agreement be posted for public comment for “no less than 30 days”
On 28 July 2006, ICANN announced the completion of negotiations and posted the proposed .ASIA Registry Agreement for public comment (http://www.icann.org/announcements/announcement-28jul06.htm).
The Board briefly discussed the public comments submitted on the .ASIA Registry Agreement during its meeting on 7 September 2006. On 25 September 2006, the Board discussed a “Sense of the Board” and directed DotAsia to respond to the two public comments that were submitted during the public comment period. The Board Secretary’s notice was posted on 27 September 2006 (http://www.icann.org/minutes/secretarys-notice-27sep06.htm) and DotAsia’s response was posted on 10 October 2006 at http://www.icann.org/announcements/dotAsia-to-icann-10oct06.pdf.
The agreement was then submitted to the ICANN Board for consideration at a Special Meeting of the Board on 18 October 2006. On 18 October 2006, the ICANN Board “determined that approval of the agreement and delegation of a .ASIA sponsored top-level domain to DotAsia would be beneficial for ICANN and the Internet community,” http://www.icann.org/minutes/minutes-18oct06.htm.
On 6 December 2006, ICANN and DotAsia signed the .ASIA Registry Agreement (http://www.icann.org/tlds/agreements/asia/). ICANN announced the signing during the 2006 ICANN Annual Meeting in Sao Paulo, Brazil (http://www.icann.org/announcements/announcement-07dec06.htm).
On 23 February 2007, DotAsia submitted a delegation template to IANA, which lists DotAsia as the requested Sponsoring Organization. The designated Administrative and Technical Contacts are listed as DotAsia. Due to technical issues with DotAsia’s name servers, IANA administratively closed the delegation request without prejudice, and DotAsia was advised to resubmit its delegation request when it had resolved the name server issues.
DotAsia resubmitted the delegation template to IANA on 9 March 2007. IANA advised DotAsia that there were remaining technical issues with one of the name servers. Between 9 March and 10 April, DotAsia worked to correct the problem with the name servers. On 10 April 2007, DotAsia submitted a new delegation template to IANA.
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.22.214.171.124), 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 .ASIA 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 .ASIA 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 .ASIA, see http://www.icann.org/minutes/resolutions-18oct06.htm.
ICANN has now completed contractual arrangements with DotAsia Organisation Limited for the introduction of a new sponsored .ASIA 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 .ASIA sTLD should be established and delegated to DotAsia Organisation Limited.