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Wales calls on ICANN to unleash .cymru

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Welsh deputy first minister Ieuan Wyn Jones has complained about delays to ICANN's new generic top-level domains programme, which are holding up a plan to offer citizens ".cymru" domain names.

dotCYM, which is proposing the domain, had originally planned to apply for ".cym", but was forced into a rethink after ICANN changed its rules to protect three-letter strings assigned by the UN to represent countries. The string "CYM" is reserved for the Cayman Islands.

A .cym bid could also have faced a challenge due to its potential for visual and phonetic confusion with ".com" – .cym is pronounced "dot cum".

On Tuesday, Jones wrote to ICANN to urge it to put an end to the delays that have plagued new gTLD policy development for the last few years.

"The bid for .cymru is a linguistic and cultural bid with no opposition or ongoing issues of contention or debate," he wrote. "May I therefore urge you to make every effort to facilitate a swift resolution to any outstanding issues and agree to a date to open this application process as quickly as possible."

The ICANN new gTLD program, which will allow any company to apply for a top-level domain of their own, has attracted several "cultural and linguistic" proposals, such as .scot, as well as bids for city-name domains such as .london.

The program was originally due to kick off in 2009, but has been repeatedly delayed due to fierce debate over hot-button topics such as trademark protection and ways to block controversial strings such as ".nazi".

The delays looks set to continue this week, following a meeting between ICANN and its Governmental Advisory Committee in Brussels. The GAC, made up of civil servants from international governments, stymied ICANN's plan to put the debate to bed by mid-March.

The Welsh call for a speedy launch is arguably at odds with Westminster's activities in the GAC. The UK representative has recently emerged as a champion of the trademark protection lobby, whose concerns about cybersquatting are still the most significant outstanding issue that needs to be resolved before ICANN can launch the new gTLD program.

The GAC as a whole has a list of about a dozen problems that it believes still need to be addressed. ICANN will attempt to reach compromise on these issues before its next public meeting kicks off in San Francisco later this month.

It is unlikely that .cymru, or any other new gTLD, will be available to customers until 2013. ®

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