[AfrICANN-discuss] ICANN Establishes Forum on Allocation Methods for Single-letter and Single-digit Domain Names

Anne-Rachel Inné annerachel at gmail.com
Tue Oct 16 20:33:08 SAST 2007

ICANN Establishes Forum on Allocation Methods for Single-letter and
Single-digit Domain Names

16 October 2007

As recommended by the GNSO Council, ICANN is commencing a forum on potential
allocation methods for single-letter and single-digit domain names at the
second level in gTLD registries. Examples include a.com, i.info, 4.mobi,
8.org. Since revenue will result from this allocation, comments regarding
the potential uses for this revenue are also requested.

ICANN intends to synthesize responses to the forum and present proposed
methods for allocation of single-letter and single-digit domain names at the
second level for community consideration.

To be considered by ICANN, ideas on potential allocation methods should be
submitted no later than 23:59 UTC, 15 November 2007 to
allocationmethods at icann.org. Comments may be viewed at

The GNSO Council asked ICANN to initiate a forum on this issue after
considering a report of the Council's Reserved Names Working Group (RN-WG),
which recommended that "single letters and digits be released at the second
level in future gTLDs, and that those currently reserved in existing gTLDs
should be released. This release should be contingent upon the use of
appropriate allocation frameworks. More work may be needed. In future gTLDs
we recommend that single letters and single digits be available at the
second (and third level if applicable)." The GNSO is one of ICANN's primary
stakeholder-populated policy making bodies. The recommendations of the RN-WG
can be found at
http://gnso.icann.org/issues/new-gtlds/final-report-rn-wg-23may07.pdf [PDF,


Currently, all 16 gTLD registry agreements (.AERO, .ASIA, .BIZ, .CAT, .COM,
.TRAVEL) provide for the reservation of single-letter and single-digit names
at the second level. ICANN's gTLD registry agreements contain the following
provision on single-letter and single-digit names. See Appendix 6 of the
.TEL Registry Agreement,
http://www.icann.org/tlds/agreements/tel/appendix-6-07apr06.htm ("the
following names shall be reserved at the second-level: All single-character

Letters, numbers and the hyphen symbol are allowed within second level names
in both top level and country code TLDs. Single letters and numbers also are
allowed as IDNs -- as single-character Unicode renderings of ASCII
compatible (ACE) forms of IDNA valid strings.

Before the current reserved name policy was imposed in 1993, Jon Postel
(under the IANA function) took steps to reserve all available single
character letters and numbers at the second level for future extensibility
of the Internet (see 20 May 1994 email from Jon Postel,
http://ops.ietf.org/lists/namedroppers/namedroppers.199x/msg01156.html). All
but six (q.com, x.com, z.com, i.net, q.net, and x.org) of the possible 144
single letters or numbers at the second-level in .COM, .EDU, .NET and .ORG
remain reserved by IANA. Those six registrations are an exception to the
reservation practice. Under current practice, these names would be placed on
reserve if the registrations were allowed to expire.

The RN-WG carefully considered technical implications of releasing
single-letter and single-digit domain names from reservation, and engaged in
discussions with technical experts as the working group recommendations were
being developed.

There are currently 265 TLDs in the root zone (19 gTLDs and 246 ccTLDs).
Although nearly all single-letter and single-digit domain names are reserved
in gTLDs, 24% of ccTLDs (60) have at least one single-character name
registration. According to IANA, out of 9540 possible combinations of
single-character ASCII names (containing 26 letters, 10 numbers, but not
symbols, across 265 TLDs), 1225 delegations of single-character ASCII names
exist in the TLD zones (See

ICANN has received many inquiries from third parties seeking to register
single-letter and single-digit domain names, and has advised these parties
that the names are reserved. Through the establishment of the public forum
described above, ICANN is following its bottom-up, multi-stakeholder model
to develop suitable allocation mechanisms for the release of single-letter
and single-digit domain names as recommended by the GNSO working group.
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