New gTLD round not envisioned sooner than 2021

In the context of the 61st meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) – taking place this week in Puerto Rico – the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Working Group presented a possible timetable for the launch of a new round of applications for new generic top-level domains (gTLDs). According to the working group, ICANN could, in a best-case scenario, open up a call for applications for new gTLDs in the first quarter of 2021, nine years after the 2012 new gTLDs round. For this timeline to be met, the ICANN community would need to be very efficient in going through the various preparatory stages (including, among others) the related policy development process within the Generic Names Supporting Organisation, a public comment period on the Applicant Guidebook, and the Board approving the policy. Given that, during the previous round, the Applicant Guidebook went through multiple revisions over a three-year period, some commentators believe that the 2021 timeline might be overly optimistic.