All The Web's A Stage: Internet Governance Takes the Floor at Domain Pulse

Posted in: Domain Names at 16/02/2009 17:43

Domain Pulse 2009, the premier annual domain name conference for the German-speaking countries, took place this year in the beautiful Germany city of Dresden. While domain names are the focus of Domain Pulse, DENIC, this year's organisers, diversified the conference to also include internet governance issues such as political campaigning and web 2.0, publicly financed media and the internet, the mobile internet, identity theft and advertising online.

With the growing use of the internet and domain names in everyday life, DENIC took the opportunity for the sixth Domain Pulse too look further afield.

DENIC took the view that they should "broaden the scope of Domain Pulse and look at the bigger picture," Sabine Dolderer, CEO and member of the Executive Board of DENIC told TechNewsReview. "Domain names are used in everyday life, just like a classical address. So in 2009, we widened the picture for Domain Pulse and decided to look at how the internet is developing and how it now provides services."

Probably the most spirited discussion of the conference took place on the application process for the new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs). ICANN's Olof Nordling confirmed what many had already come to realise - the final process for how to apply for a domain name is not likely to be finalised in the next few months with discussion set to continue at the ICANN Mexico City meeting in early March.

Nordling said there will be a third draft with public comments invited and this will be released around the time of the Mexico City meeting. This could also have repercussions on the timelines on the call for applications.

Nordling also said the economic study, proposed by ICANN in 2006, and mentioned by Department of Justice in their submission to ICANN on the new gTLD process, is currently underway and should be published at the time of the next draft of the application guidelines in time for the March ICANN meeting.

Another setback in the timelines for the application process for new gTLDs was greeted with disappointment by potential gTLD applicants such as dotBERLIN who have been working towards a TLD for Berlin since 2005. DotBERLIN's Dirk Krischenowski says there is enormous demand for addresses in the congested .de ccTLD where there are more than twelve million domain registrations. This demand can be demonstrated by the large of number of domain name registrations including terms such as "online", "internet", "Berlin" and "Hamburg" in domain names such as xyz-hotel-berlin.de. A shorter domain name would help business with marketing, enabling domain names such as xyz.berlin or xyz-hotel.berlin.

And as Krischenowski notes, any applicant who cannot demonstrate demand for a new gTLD will probably fail. It's not something that can be done on a whim and a serious business plan is essential.

However there was some scepticism expressed by others as to whether new gTLDs will be successful at Domain Pulse, while Christian Müller of Sedo said large companies do ask if they can have their own name as a TLD.

One to question the viability of gTLDs such as .berlin that aim to serve a local community was Richard Wein, Managing Director of the Austrian registry nic.at. Wein believes new TLDs will require registrations fees of €100,000 to €150,000 per year to be successful after the expenditure of around €1.5m to €2m in the first two years to get the new gTLD up and running.

However should the new gTLDs come about, Wein said nic.at would be keen to lend their experience and act as their registry. A similar sentiment was echoed by Urs Eppenberger from SWITCH, the registry for the .ch and .li ccTLDs.

Reservations were also expressed on whether the new gTLDs were of benefit by Michael Niebel, representing the European Commission. Niebel questioned the necessity of the new gTLDs, while also saying the EC assumes there will be new gTLDs.

The ongoing delays in the new gTLD process also has caused a delay in the introduction of internationalised domain name (IDN) country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs), an issue that concerns Sabine Dolderer. The introduction of IDN ccTLDs will be of great benefit to the vast number of internet users whose language does not use Roman characters.

"I have sympathy for those waiting for the introduction of IDN ccTLDs as this is a very important step in the evolution of the internet," Dolderer told TechNewsReview. "The new gTLD process has slowed down their introduction."

With this in mind, Wolfgang Kleinwächter suggested there should be different categories of TLD applicants with different conditions attached, thus enabling IDN ccTLDs to be introduced and fast tracked outside the existing gTLD process.

Domain Pulse 2010 will be held in Luzern, Switzerland and will be hosted by SWITCH. Translations are provided for the non-German speakers with all German sessions translated into English, and sessions presented in English translated into German. More information on the next Domain Pulse will be available closer to the date at www.domainpulse.org.


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