The board of Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the US-based body that manages the global internet, has set aside $ 2 million to provide financial assistance to new generic top-level domain (gTLD) applicants who are in need of the assistance to help them succeed during the process that begins in January 2012.
On December 20 2011, ICANN introduced a public comment period for the implementation of the gTLD applicant support programme which ends on January 10, 2012.
According to this announcement, the program is a result of two years cooperation among the ICANN community, particularly represented by the Joint Applicant Support Working Group (JAS WG), and the ICANN Board.
As part of the programme, assistance will include a fee reduction to a limited number of qualifying applicants from $ 185,000 to $ 47,000 while additional forms of assistance will include time-phased evaluation fees and provision of translation services.
The move is meant to assist less financially-endowed applicants but who are also keen to be allocated new internet domains in this new round. It is therefore a programme that applicants from developing countries – including Africa – could utilize to enhance and ensure success of their new gTLD applications.
The programme does not however relax existing criteria for a new gTLD as outlined in the New gTLD Applicant Guidebook
but has additional criteria to identify those who best demonstrate service in the public interest; financial need and have at least a level of financial capabilities.
Support applications will be evaluated by an independent evaluation panel while selected applicants will be able to submit applications as soon as the New gTLDs Program launches on January 12 2012.
ICANN has also emphasized that the financial assistance programme is “dedicated to truly deserving new gTLD applicants” and those applications from entities that apply for financial assistant and “do not meet certain threshold criteria will be disqualified from the new gTLD programme.”