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New internationalised domain names lift language barrier

Carol Ko | July 28, 2009
Opening all sorts of possibilities for Web addresses with new generic top-level domain names

HONG KONG, 27 JULY 2009 New internationalised domain name (IDN) Web addresses and the generic top-level-domain (gTLD) programme will be available in a few months' time, said ICANN.

These two initiatives will open the Internet address system to more customisation and localisation, said the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a global non-profit public-benefit corporation that oversees the coordination of unique IP addresses and domain names.

IDN Web addresses are expected to be available later this year, while the gTLD application process is expected to begin sometime in 2010.

Generic TLDs

The gTLDs form part of the Internet's global addressing system or domain-name system (DNS). A gTLD is the technical term for the suffixes which appear at the end of Internet addresses and are used to route traffic through the Internet. There are currently only 21 gTLDs, which is that portion of a Web address name that is to the right of the dot (i.e., .com, .org, .asia, etc).  

ICANN proposed that the limit of 21 be lifted and the numbers of gTLDs be expanded to allow all varieties of names and words. An example of a new gTLD could be <www.MISAsia.magazine>.

According to Brent, application fee for each new generic top-level domain name is estimated at US$185,000, together with a US$100 user registration fee to access the application system. The process for each gTLD application is expected to take about six to 12 months before ICANN allocates the successfully registered gTLD to the applicant. Each successful gTLD registration is good for five years, after which the gTLD registrant will have to re-register to retain the ownership of the gTLD.

ICANN expects to receive hundreds of applications when it opens up the first round of applications for new gTLDs, which could happen as early as next year.

Internationalised domain name

In conjunction with the expansion or the gTLD addresses, the IDN programme allows for the introduction of Internet address names formed from non-Latin based languages, including Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Arabic.

Doug Brent, chief operating officer of ICANN, said: Innovation is not something driven simply by demand in a marketplace. It's provided also by the opportunities in the structure of the marketplace and the technology available.  

We would not have a Skype, a Google, a Facebook if someone didn't imagine the possibilities. Entrepreneurs and community leaders will drive new possibilities, seeing what is feasible in an environment of innovation, and that is an important part of the framework in which we need to consider the new gTLD round, Brent said.

Significant impact in Asia

The IDN programme is expected to generate interest to Internet users who are non-English speakers. The impact is expected to be significant in Asia in growing the number of people who will access the Internet completely in their own language. The programme will also allow greater options for local companies and brands, which are considering extending their presence online.

 

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