The introduction of new generic Top Level Domains has seen applications from several cities around the world, one of them being the Russian capital of Moscow, who has applied for both .MOSCOW and its Cyrillic counterpart, .МОСКВА.
While cruising down the Volga river in Russia with RU-CENTER before ICANN's Big Reveal, Dmitry Burkov, Chairman of the Board of the Foundation for Assistance for Internet Technologies and Infrastructure Development (FAITID), told Domain News that he believes the two gTLDs will be successful, but not based solely on the number of registrations. But he also expressed disappointment in the way ICANN ran the application process.
Dmitry believes it will be a way of uniting Muscovites in their love of the country. Which is not surprising, because from my limited travels in Russia I sensed a deep patriotism, a pride in their country, that in the 20-odd western countries I have visited around the world is something I have not seen. And Dmitry sees new gTLDs, not just for Moscow but globally, to be a great way of boosting one's self-identification with their home country, region or city.
Dmitry sees great opportunities for the two Moscow gTLDs. "It is clear that there is a lot of potential for the Moscow gTLDs with SMEs (small to medium enterprises) as there are many, although how many it is unknown, that have not registered their domain."
Dmitry also cited the example of the local government in Moscow could use registrations at the third level for schools and museums - for example xxx.museum.moscow and sss.school.moscow (but the latter in Cyrillic only).
Getting new gTLDs available for public registrations has been noted as something many will find difficult, especially if they do not have good marketing plans. It has been said registrars will be reluctant to add new gTLDs to the TLDs they offer, making them difficult to promote. But Dmitry says Russian registrars are keen to add both gTLDs and to promote them to customers.
The success of the .РФ (.RF) TLD gives Dmitry some comfort too. There are now almost 806,000 .РФ domain names registered less than two years after it launched, with around 40 per cent of .RU and 45 per cent of .РФ domains registered by registrants in the Moscow region.
"The Moscow gTLDs will be more successful because they have learnt lessons from the launch of .РФ," Dmitry said.
FAITID is already promoting the Moscow gTLDs in anticipation of their approval at conferences and events within Russia and once approved, "the gTLDs will be promoted widely outside Russia to business, individuals, domainers and the large diaspora of Muscovites around the world. We have already begun talking to large domainers about them registering domains in the Moscow gTLDs," Dmitry said.
Talking about other Russian new TLDs Dmitry said major portion of them did not came into life due to various problems including the cost of the application process and the time taken to complete the process. In the long run only 8 applications from Russia were submitted to ICANN
While the introduction of the two Moscow gTLDs fills Dmitry with optimism, the same can't be said of his view of the way ICANN ran the application process.
"ICANN has let everyone down when it comes to the development of the applicant guidebook."
That the TLD Application System broke down was of no surprise to Dmitry. There was no tender, no published requirements, no estimation of quality and the resources are unknown for the creation of system. "What was the RFP," Dmitry asked. "It was predictable that it would fail as there was not enough preparation and user testing was inadequate."
Dmitry also noted that the TAS "was initially designed to only upload files, but then the web interface was added and so then people would want to edit their applications online, but this was not taken into account into the TAS's design. But thankfully we successfully submitted our applications before TAS went down!"
According to Dmitry another one bad example of how the new gTLD process is organised is the proposed batching mechanism. Dmitry says the objections of ICANN's Governmental Advisory Council on batching were ignored for a long time.
"One of the problems brought by batching is that the earliest applications chosen for approval after going through the digital archery process get an advantage as for each applicant they get one chance."
"The batching process wasn't predictable and announcements on process were not logical," Dmitry said.
"And now that transcripts of ICANN board meetings have ended, so there will now be no knowledge of what is discussed and by whom, leading to less transparency."