Web baron ICANN has braced itself for at least 1,200 applications for new top-level internet domains in the first round of its controversial gTLD expansion programme.
CEO Rod Beckstrom said that the organisation's beleaguered TLD Application System (TAS), which is still offline more than two weeks after a data-leaking security bug was discovered, has 1,268 registered users.
Each TAS account can be used to apply for up to 50 gTLDs – suffixes such as .gay, .london and .music have been proposed – so 1,268 is the fewest number of applications that are likely to be received.
“It’s unlikely to be lower than that number,” Beckstrom said.
Opening a TAS account costs $5,000; filing a dot-word TLD application costs an additional $180,000.
ICANN saw a huge surge of interest in the four days before TAS closed to new users on 29 March, almost three months after the application window opened. At that point the domain name overseer announced that it had 839 registered accounts.
Unfortunately for applicants, the TAS is now into its 19th day of downtime after ICANN was alerted to a bug that enabled some applicants to see the names of files in other users' accounts. The registration system was shut down on 12 April, with just 12 hours of the application window remaining, leaving many applicants frustrated and out-of-pocket.
Beckstrom said that fixing the bug and making performance improvements to TAS is currently "the number one issue for me as CEO, number one for most members of the executive management team and for a large part of the organization".
ICANN has said that it will reopen TAS for five days to allow companies to finalise their applications, but as yet it has not determined when that will happen.
Beckstrom said that he wants to make sure that the programme is back on track before his tenure as CEO expires, which coincides with ICANN's next big public meeting in Prague at the end of June. ®