IANA Report on the Delegation of the .CAT Top-Level Domain(Date: 18 November 2005)
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 .CAT 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 applicant, registry operator and Sponsoring Organization (SO) for the .CAT sTLD is Fundació puntCAT, Fundació Privada, a Catalonia private foundation (“puntCAT”). The registry operator selected CORE Internet Council of Registrars (CORE) to provide registry services.
Each of the three evaluation teams described above reviewed the .CAT application and found that it met the respective selection criteria set forth in the RFP. The technical evaluation team noted that the application “was a rather innovative proposal. It ties a domain name to a language and culture, which has not been done before. The proposal is clear that this is an experiment. As such, it lays out a clear exit plan if the experiment fails, including provisions for the return of the TLD to ICANN. The proposal sets preconditions before registrations can go live, and monitors registrants for compliance with TLD policies.”
The business/financial team noted that the “business plan is clearly defined and demonstrates an in-depth knowledge of the registrant market to be addressed. The methodology is solid and well structured. The financial plan is credible and solid. Contingency plans are appropriate to keep the domain operational in case of failure. The budget seems realistic and appropriately scaled to the tasks outlined in the business plan. The model shows good judgment in building low initial overhead until the revenue base is secured.”
The sponsorship/community value team found that .CAT met the selection criteria set forth in the RFP. It noted that the “community was well defined and the policy formulation environment was properly articulated. The application showed that there is a clearly defined set of needs around the provision of Internet services that are culturally and/or linguistically associated with the Catalan language or region.”
On 31 July 2004, ICANN notified puntCAT of the evaluators’ recommendations. ICANN also referred the applicant to the GAC principles where it is stated that to “avoid, in the creation of new generic TLDs, well known and famous country, territory or place names; well known and famous country, territory or regional language or people descriptions; or ISO 639 Codes for representation of languages unless in agreement with the relevant governments or public authorities” (see section 8.3 of the “Principles for the Delegation and Administration of Country Code Top Level Domains, at http://www.icann.org/committees/gac/gac-cctldprinciples-23feb00.htm) (emphasis added). ICANN noted its understanding from the application that Catalan is spoken predominantly in Spain, and that it is also the sole official language of Andorra. Accordingly, ICANN requested that puntCAT obtain letters from the Government of Spain and the Government of Andorra indicating whether they agreed with the designation of an sTLD for the “Catalan Linguistic and Cultural Community.”
On 5 October 2004, ICANN wrote to the Government of Spain to explain the sTLD application process. The letter indicated that while the .CAT application “was found to have successfully met the baseline criteria,” given the guidance as stated in the GAC’s principles, ICANN was requesting that the Government of Spain provide its position in agreement or in objection, opposition, or concern about the proposed new TLD, .cat.
On 22 October 2004, ICANN sent a similar letter to the Government of Andorra.
On 15 November 2004, Sr. Daniel Bastida, Director del Department de la Societat de la Informació, Projectes Estrategics, Govern d'Andorra, replied that the Government did “not have any objection to grant the TLD .cat domain to use it for the Catalan linguistic and cultural community.
On 24 November 2004, D. Francisco Ros Peran, Secretary of State for Telecommunications and Information Society of Spain replied.
On 18 February 2005, the ICANN Board of Directors reviewed the .CAT application materials, the evaluator's responses and the applicant's supplemental materials. After extensive board discussion regarding the application, the Board authorized the beginning of negotiations relating to proposed commercial and technical terms for the .CAT sTLD, “in conjunction with consultation with the appropriate governmental authorities” (see http://www.icann.org/minutes/minutes-18feb05.htm).
On 9 August 2005, the proposed .CAT sTLD registry agreement was posted on the ICANN website (at http://www.icann.org/tlds/agreements/cat/proposed-cat-agmt-09aug05.pdf) and submitted to the ICANN Board for approval.
On 16 August 2005, the ICANN Board discussed and then deferred consideration of the .CAT sTLD request until its 15 September 2005 Meeting in order to “allow for further clarification regarding selected terms of the agreement.” (http://www.icann.org/minutes/resolutions-16aug05.htm). The clarifications sought were technical in nature, inquiring as to the type and number of names that were to be pre- registered by the puntCAT registry itself. A brief inquiry into contractual terms verified that the pre-registered names were relatively few in number, consistent with other sTLDs.
On 15 September 2005, the Board approved the .CAT Sponsored Top-Level Domain Registry Agreement (see http://www.icann.org/minutes/resolutions-15sep05.htm).
On 9 October 2005, ICANN and puntCAT signed the Registry Agreement.
On 11 October 2005, puntCAT submitted a delegation template to IANA, which lists Fundacio puntCAT as the requested Sponsoring Organization. The designated Administrative Contact and Technical Contact roles will be Amadeu Abril i Abril and Werner Staub, respectively.
This report is being provided under the contract for performance of the IANA function (http://www.icann.org/general/iana-contract-17mar03.htm) between the United States Government and ICANN. Under that contract, ICANN performs the IANA function, which includes receiving delegation and delegation requests concerning TLDs (http://www.icann.org/general/iana-contract-17mar03.htm#C.188.8.131.52), 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 .CAT 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 .CAT 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 .CAT, see http://www.icann.org/minutes/resolutions-15sep05.htm.
ICANN has now completed contractual arrangements with puntCAT for the introduction of a new sponsored .CAT TLD. Conclusion 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 .CAT TLD should be established and delegated to puntCAT.