Moscow Hosted a Meeting of a Group Aspiring to Geographic Top-Level Domains

A meeting of a group aspiring to geographic top-level domains (GeoTLDs) was held in Moscow on October 24, 2013 in the metropolitan Government compound. The event was attended by representatives of organizations which are engaged within the New gTLD Program framework in the implementation of over than 30 domain names for the world’s cities and regions, such as .MОСКВА, .PARIS, .BERLIN, .LONDON, .BARCELONA, .WIEN, .MADRID, .TIROL, .BRUSSELS, .AFRICA, etc.

The meeting has been co-organized by the Foundation for Assistance for Internet Technologies and Infrastructure Dev elopment, which runs the project related to the introduction of the  .MOSCOW and .МОСКВА domains, and by the national domain registrar RU-CENTER. The event has been supported by the Department for Information Technologies of the City of Moscow, while Artem Ermolaev, Moscow Government Minister, has inaugurated the GeoTLDs Meeting by saying: “Internet and telecommunications development are listed among the top-priority vectors of the policies pursued by our city. A further service informatization scheduled to be completed by 2017 will enable our citizens to order 100 per cent of their services in an electronic format. Therefore, it is crucial for us to be involved in the project related to the .MOSCOW and .МОСКВА domains' implementation. It will signify an extra comfort facility for the capital city residents, as well as new prospects for a comfortable development of the city businesses and electronic trade. Now the companies and organizations will gain a crucial marketing tool to enable their association with Moscow and with our city’s rich history. All the key government authorities and metropolitan sights will get their own ‘footholds’ in the Moscow domains.”

Sergei Sobyanin, Moscow’s Mayor, has also made an address to the meeting attendants:  “An efficient presence in the Internet space is becoming a crucial success factor in the era of global digital technologies. It refers equally both to the commercial companies and whole cities. The online technologies are instrumental in implementing most daring and breath-taking projects to emphasize a city’s identity or to reveal the full dimension of its cultural heritage. As the Russian capital is gaining its .MOSCOW and .МОСКВА top-level domains, this fact will assist in consolidating the city executive branch authorities’ websites, opening up further opportunities for a wide range of Internet users and in promoting successfully the brand of Moscow as an international business and travelling hub.”

The meeting was used by the GeoTLD applicants to discuss the progress of the New gTLD Program which has provided a framework for new top-level domains' introduction. In particular, the meeting participants have put under review their experiences of interacting with the ICANN when passing the procedures which precede domain name registration roll-out in new TLDs.  

“Out of 1,932 applications filed in respect of domains under the New gTLD Program 76 have the status of geographic ones. The domain name registration in the first GeoTLDs is expected to begin as soon as in 2014,” disclosed Andrei Vorobiev, RU-CENTER’s Director for Public Relations and Cooperation with the Government Authorities.

For instance, Sunrise registration period is scheduled for early 2014 to cover the trademark owners registered under the national procedure or entered into the ТМСН, Trademark Clearinghouse, in the Cyrillic .МОСКВА TLD and somewhat later in its ASCII version, i.e. in the .MOSCOW TLD. This information was provided during the meeting by Pavel Khramtsov, a Board member of the Foundation for Assistance for Internet Technologies and Infrastructure Development. As many as 500,000 domain names are expected to be registered in the TLDs within the first three years. Pavel Khramtsov has also informed that at present the Moscow city TLD project is now at the stage of signing a contract with the ICANN.

Information on a successful completion of this stage was shared at the meeting by a .WIEN (for Austrian capital Vienna) TLD representative, as the information had been delivered just a few minutes before the meeting began. It implies a high degree of probability that the TLD will be delegated in the nearest future.
The meeting attendees have also shared their ideas in the area of geographic top-level domain promotion, on TLD technical platforms' development and on drafting a document kit to be used in support of the geoTLDs operation. The applicants for city and region extensions visited Moscow stressed the support of their local authorities provided for the development of the TLD implementation projects, although initially not all the authorities had had belief in such projects and insistently denied any involvement in them. For example, such opinions have been typical for the German Government for four years, but the .BERLIN TLD applicant company eventually succeeded in winning the authorities over to their cause. As Dirk Krischenowski, dotBERLIN representative and leader of the initiative group aspiring to the geographic  TLDs said, “city identification is gaining an ever increasing significance in the era of digital technologies, as over 60 per cent of our planet’s residents live in big cities and this kind of growth is bound to continue.”  

Another item on the meeting’s agenda was the issue of granting the status of a constituency within ICANN to the GeoTLDs Group. This status will enable the GeoTLDs to engage pro-actively in the ICANN policy and procedure development and to represent in a more efficient way the Group members’ interests in their communication with ICANN.