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[gtld-strategy-draft] TLD Launch Strategy

  • To: <mike@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: [gtld-strategy-draft] TLD Launch Strategy
  • From: "Dan Younger" <dyounger.artisticribbon@xxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 4 Oct 2004 15:06:18 -0400

Languages in the Root:  
A TLD Launch Strategy Based on ISO 639

A proposal and request for comments by Danny Younger


The Concept:


     TLD registrations in the Internet's root-zone file currently are divided 
into two broad classifications:  generic and country-code top-level domains.  
With respect to the latter classification, no new "strategy" is required to add 
further ccTLDs as a relatively well-working process is already in place to 
integrate the occasional new country-code top-level domain.  With one of these 
two classifications under reasonably sound management, it is therefore 
perfectly understandable to see that the ICANN organization consequently views 
its obligation to "Define and implement a predictable strategy for selecting 
new TLDs" as a mandate "to begin the process of allocating and implementing new 
gTLDs". the flaw in this conclusion, however, stems from the presumption that 
the Internet's taxonomy must necessarily contain only the two 
above-so-mentioned broad classifications.  I am proposing a third TLD 
classification - based on languages.


     As our objective is to maximize the public benefit derived from the 
Internet's system of unique identifiers, our focus must be upon utility - that 
which serves the greatest good for the greatest number of people worldwide.  A 
series of top-level domains based on language identifiers would satisfy that 
goal; it would promote on a global scale commercial and civil/social 
opportunities that would necessarily result in the opening of new markets for 
domain registration services world-wide.     


     As noted in the 16 April 2002 "Discussion Paper on Non-ASCII Top-Level 
Domain Policy Issues" (see 
http://www.icann.org/committees/idn/non-ascii-tld-paper.htm ), "A 
language-associated TLD string may assist in the development of global 
language-based Internet communities, particularly where the language speakers 
are widely distributed around the world, for example, the various 
Cambodian-speaking communities."


     Imagine for a moment a future in which a young businessman whose native 
language is Wolof (a language understood by over 8 million Senegalese as well 
as a language spoken by significant populations in The Gambia, Mauritania, Côte 
d'Ivoire, Mali, France, Italy, and Spain), can sit by a computer and access 
websites written in Wolof simply by using a search engine to sift through 
records found in the .wol domain (a string derived from the ISO 639 list).  
Before long, he has found trading partners both locally and abroad, a wealth of 
opportunities and a host of valuable services all provided in his own native 


     It is said that "The Internet is for everyone" - this is a way to make it 
so, by giving each language grouping its own top-level domain.  The significant 
value of language-based TLDs is to make the Internet more fully accessible to 
the 92% of the world's population that does not speak English.




Questions, Issues & Answers:




1.  Language


     One might reasonably ask, how will ICANN know exactly what constitutes a 
"language"?  The answer lies in recourse to an ISO (International Organization 
for Standardization) list.  ICANN uses the ISO 3166 list to determine that 
which constitutes a ccTLD.  In similar fashion the ISO 639 list of three-letter 
language codes can be used to definitively establish an acceptable list of 
languages.  The ISO 639 list may be found at 




2.  IDNs


     Does this proposal require the creation of non-ASCII TLDs?  In the spirit 
of "keeping-it-simple", this proposal only calls for the use of the ASCII 
three-letter codes as established in ISO 639.  One hopes that after an initial 
proof-of-concept stage is evaluated, possibilities will later emerge to allow 
for an ultimate migration to non-ASCII representations under ICANN's guidance.




3.  Quantity of TLDs 


     Just how many language-associated TLD strings (L-TLDS) are being proposed? 
 The ISO 639 list of three-letter codes contains about 400 entries.  While some 
of these listings (such as "peo", the code for "Persian, Old [ca 600 - 400 
B.C.]"), can safely be edited out of the list, I believe that we can still talk 
in terms of round numbers and use 400 entries as the approximate value under 
discussion.  Please note that there are 241 currently active ccTLD 
registrations in the Internet's root-zone file.



4.  Phased roll-out of TLDs


     I envision a ten+-year phased introduction of the language-associated TLD 
strings with a launch cycle periodicity of eighteen months (this should allow 
for necessary review mechanisms):  


  a.. First group - 12 language-associated TLDs
  b.. Second group (eighteen months later) - 24 language-associated TLDs
  c.. Third group (year # 3) - 36 language-associated TLDs
  d.. Fourth group (eighteen months later) - 48 language-associated TLDs
  e.. Fifth group (year #6) - 60 language-associated TLDs
  f.. Sixth group (eighteen months later) - 72 language-associated TLDs
  g.. Seventh group (year #9) - 84 language-associated TLDs
  h.. Eighth group (eighteen months later) - remainder of language-associated 


5.  Politics and the Selection process


     Because attempting to create TLDs semantically linked to languages might 
well raise a number of extremely delicate political problems (consider the 
prospect of selecting a registry operator for a language group that includes 
hundreds of millions of people and spans a number of nation-states), prior to 
the start of each selection cycle, deference will be made to governmental 
entities that oppose participation in this selection process (through some type 
of diplomatically appropriate method, their language-associated strings will be 
removed from the group of potential candidates for inclusion into the 
Internet's root-zone).



6.  The Selection methodology


     After necessary exclusions that result from the political process, a 
computer will be used to randomly select the strings that will be launched in 
each given cycle.



7.  Choosing the registry operators


     It is my belief that a process should be put into place to pre-certify 
registry operators.  Once registry operators are accredited entities, they may 
choose to be considered as candidates in a random draw process.  Just as the 
TLD strings will be randomly selected, so too shall the accredited registry 
operators be randomly chosen to operate the language-associated TLDs.



8.  Communications


     Each registry operator selected to operate these L-TLDs will conduct its 
communications with the public and with the registrar community in the 
language-group that is under its management.  Accordingly, all registry 
operators accredited to operate LTDs will warrant that they will secure an 
appropriate level of staff with fluency in whatever language-group they are 
selected to handle.



Final Thoughts:


     In the last round of TLD selections ICANN chose both small communities 
(such as .museum) and potentially large communities (such as .info) to be 
awarded a presence in the Internet's root-zone file.  It is my expectation that 
a random selection process for L-TLDs will result in a similar mix:  some small 
language communities and some large language groups.   Whatever the outcome, we 
can expect the expansion of competition in the domain name registration 
business as firms with relevant language proficiency and technical skills vie 
for registrar accreditation in this new TLD environment. 


     Consumers world-wide will benefit from increased choice and the 
innovations that will accompany the launch of language-based TLDs, and ICANN 
will have proven that it is truly an international organization that is 
committed to the needs of the global community of Internet users.  



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