ICANN launches website for new gTLD second round

One of the criticisms of the development of the first gTLD application round was that ICANN appeared reticent to promote the programme far and wide.  Whilst many commentators wanted to see a revolution rather than a gentle evolution, a lack of public awareness undoubtedly hampered user engagement with the hundreds of new top-level domains that were slowly added to the digital landscape over the subsequent years since 2012.

The second application round has been over a decade in the making but, keen to avoid similar issues around the lack of publicity, ICANN has been more proactive in not just publishing information on the programme, but the progress being made towards the application window that will open in quarter 2 of 2026.

On the 1st May, ICANN launched a brand new website, dedicated to information and resources on the second application round.  While this may seem like a modest step – after all thousands of new websites are launched every day – it is an important move in demonstrating ICANN’s progress towards the next round.

By publishing information on the next round as early as possible and in one central location, the new site will help prospective gTLD applicants better prepare for application. The new site already includes information on the Application Support Program (ASP) – an initiative to provide funding and support to entities who wish to apply but may have financial challenges – and the Registry Services Provider (RSP) pre-evaluation program, and it will publish the Applicant Guidebook that sets out the rules and procedures for application.

For the wider community this is another firm step towards the second application round. For any organisations thinking of making a dotBrand TLD application, the clock is well and truly ticking on starting the preparation process, creating internal stakeholder teams, and developing the use cases that will underpin a successful application.