BitDepth 817 - January 17

ICANN's Sébastien Bachollet visits Trinidad and Tobago to stir interest in the new expansion of top level domains.
The web’s expanding frontier
Sébastien Bachollet of ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers speaks with journalists at a press conference at the Ministry of Science and Technology last week. Photograph by Mark Lyndersay.

Sébastien Bachollet is an at-large director of ICANN, the organisation that oversees the security and orderliness of the registration system that turns arcane strings of numbers into destinations on the web.

Bachollet was in Trinidad and Tobago last week as a guest of the Trinidad and Tobago chapter of the Internet Society, the first event in a planned series marking 2012 as the society’s Year of the Internet campaign. Key on his agenda was the expansion of generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) that began on January 12, 2012 and runs through April 12.

So what are gTLDs? You know them the final characters in any Internet address, such as .com, .net and .org, which define a particular section of the web.

When you buy a web address, you are paying to allocate a particular second level domain within that domain, such as Very busy and involved second level domains can implement a third level domain. If you try visiting, you’ll find yourself instantly bounced to a third level domain,, the newschannel’s live front-end.

The number of gTLDs existing has been miniscule, relative to the abundance of websites in existence. Except for country specific ccTLDs, domains assigned to nations, such as France’s .fr and Trinidad and Tobago’s .tt, new TLDs created over the last two decades can be safely counted on your fingers and toes.

That’s about to change. Over the next couple of months, any business with the money and infrastructure to manage a registry for a TLD will have a chance to apply for a gTLD name and act as a registry for that domain.

This isn’t a casual investment and ICANN has specific expectations of the infrastucture that applicants will have to supply as a registrar.
The (non-refundable) evaluation fee for applicants is US$185,000 and there’s an ongoing annual fee of US$25,000, and that what’s at stake before any consideration of the staffing, equipment and infrastructure needs of a registrant are factored in.

ICANN is considering a reduction in the applicant registrar fee for developing nations and has set aside US$ 2million for a subsidy fund that it hopes to fortify with additional contributions.
The project is intended to expand, quite substantially, the top level domain system and allow nations with non-ASCII text systems to create gTLDs in their native language, described as an Internationalised Domain Name or IDN.

The early closing of the applicant process (on March 29) is in anticipation of not only the requests that are expected (more than 1,500) but the reality that there will be conflicts over specific gTLDs such as .sport and .web, making dispute resolution a critical element of the process. 

There is also a “grandfathering” system built into the process that gives seniority to brand holders and the existing domains as part of ICANN’s increased monitoring of domain squatting.
For the last two decades, the .tt domain has been something of a mess, living in a twilight world of 1995, with absurdly expensive registration fees for second level domain registrations and prohibitively expensive costs for the quite rarely purchased .tt designation.

In 2012, it would seem smart and a bit overdue for our larger ISPs, Flow and TSTT, to be taking a lead role in creating new gTLDs to serve nationals in Trinidad and Tobago keen to make a global impact with relevant domain names.

Interested in applying or just curious about the process?

Read more about the initiative
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