Non-English speakers across the globe will soon have access to the Internet addresses completely in their own language. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the organization charged with overseeing the Internet’s naming and numbering systems, is today launching a process for delegating a number of internationalized top-level domains.
IDNs are domain names that include characters other than the currently available set of the English alphabet (the 26 letters "a-z", numbers 0 to 9, and hyphens). ICANN Chairman Peter Dengate Thrush noted, “The IDN program will encompass close to one hundred thousand characters, opening up the Internet to billions of potential users around the globe.”
ICANN President Rod Beckstrom described the importance of this change to the global Internet community, “Over half the Internet users around the world don’t use a Latin-based script as their native language. IDNs are about making the Internet more global and accessible for everyone.”
Starting November 16, 2009 at 00:00UTC ICANN will accept requests from representatives of countries and territories around the world for new Internet extensions that represent their country name and are made up of non-Roman characters.
Once the requests are evaluated and approved, Internet extensions are expected to come online in many countries during 2010.
“This is the biggest technical change to the Internet’s addressing system – the Domain Name System – in many years,” said Tina Dam, ICANN’s Senior Director of Internationalized Domain Names. “Right now, it’s not possible to get a domain name entirely in for example Chinese characters or Arabic characters. This is about to change.”
It’s important to note that ICANN will not accept direct registration applications for second-level domain names – the part before the Internet extension or suffix – from individuals, companies, or organizations. The ability for people to get a domain name in their language will come later – through a process determined by the entity that successfully applies for an IDN country-code top-level.
The IDN ccTLD Fast Track Process is available online now, including an online request form, a manual describing how to apply, a list of Frequently Asked Questions, ICANN’s final implementation plan, and brief history of the Fast Track process.
All material and access to the system is available at: http://www.icann.org/en/topics/idn/fast-track/