It always was a symbolic battle. Steve Crocker is Chair of ICANN as well as an outstanding engineer throughout Internet history.
"While today is an absolutely historic day for ICANN and for the success of the multi-stakeholder approach toward governance of an important portion of the Internet ecosystem, from the perspective of the Internet user community, today is a day like any other. The transition of the stewardship of the IANA process from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to multi-stakeholder oversight of ICANN, has had and will have no impact on the orderly operation of the Internet. Packets will continue to flow and new services will continue to be invented. (And, of course, the multiple forms of abuse, conflict and controversy over content and other matters will also continue as before.)
Thousands of man hours and very large numbers of emails, documents and meetings tallied up between NTIA’s announcement 2-1/2 years ago on 14 March 2014 and the big event last night. And what was the big event? The quiet completion of the contract between NTIA and ICANN which was really vestigial in nature. ICANN now has stronger accountability mechanisms, and the paperwork documenting the interactions with the operational communities is now more direct and does not involve the U.S. government, but otherwise it’s business as usual."