In a significant moment for ICANN and the New gTLD program as a whole, 4 applications for New gTLD registries have been approved to proceed to the delegation phase. All 4 of the gTLDs are IDNs (Internationalized Domain Names) or non-Latin based registries that will be the very first generic Top Level Domain registries of their kind. 

These first new IDNs are:

شبكة (xn--ngbc5azd) – the Arabic word for “Web” or “Network”
Registry : International Domain Registry Pty. Ltd.

онлайн (xn--80asehdb) – Russian for “Online”
Registry: Core Association

сайт (xn--80aswg) – Russian for “Web site”
Registry: Core Association

游戏 (xn--unup4y) – Chinese for “Game”
Registry: Spring Fields, LLC (Donuts)

The above TLDs will each receive a “token” that will give them access to the Root Zone and allow them to get online. In June 2013 ICANN put out that it had been working with Verisign and NTIA to make improvements to the Root Zone in order to ensure stability when a bunch of New gTLDs were added. These 4 TLDs will now test the Root Zone readiness that has come into question in recent months, specifically by Verisign and its letter/report to ICANN in March 2013 that stated, in part:

“Rolling out the multitudes of new gTLDs and implicitly adding the associated levels of churn into the relatively stagnant DNS root zone will require a lot of process and dependencies. The smaller scale evolution that the root has traditionally experienced likely has not illuminated the process-related complexities and problems that, in our considered opinion, will almost certainly abound with larger scale changes. Without a well constructed and well reasoned process model, and at the scale of changes foreseen with the addition of the unprecedented rate of the new gTLDs being added, the entire DNS hierarchy faces the potential for issues at or near the root of the DNS tree, and the fallout from such a change could affect all delegations. From our perspective as a large-scale registry operator, it is apparent that the new gTLD timelines provide little accommodation for the operator aspects of the process. That is, given the information to date, it seems as though ICANN has taken a very ICANN-centric role in establishing these timeliness, and gave little consideration to the fact that registry operators would need to ingest requirements, implement, specifications, pilot internally, prepare to accommodate test cases, consider the security implications and change management functions required, etc. It actually appears as though there is little to no time allotted for operators to adequately prepare, and the lack of stable fundamental specifications and test plans within days of publicly stated testing times illustrates a clear disconnect between aspirational timelines with the New gTLD program and operational realities with which various stakeholders are constrained.” (emphasis added)

Ouch! Well, the stage is set now for ICANN to flex its preparedness muscles or for Versign to tell everyone “I told you so!”..