Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers

ICANN Successfully Conducts Laboratory Tests of Internationalised Domain Names

7 March 2007

In October, 2006, ICANN engaged Autonomica AB of Stockholm, Sweden, to develop, conduct, and report on the results of laboratory testing of internationalized top-level domains in a setting corresponding to the public root. Quoting from their report,

Autonomica AB has, under a contract with ICANN, investigated whether the addition of top level domains containing encoded internationalized characters (so called IDNs) would have any impact on the operations of the root name servers providing delegations, or the iterative mode resolvers used to look up the information. No impact at all could be detected. All involved systems behaved exactly as expected.

Internationalized domain names (IDNs) are domain names containing characters other than those based on the ASCII character sets. Such non-ASCII characters include those available in right-to-left scripts (e.g., Arabic) and non-alphabetic scripts (e.g., Mandarin Chinese). ICANN is actively involved in the efforts to make these available at the top level—that is, so that an entire domain name can be rendered in local characters. The global deployment of IDNs will enhance the local Internet experience in large regions of the world by enabling people to share and access information or use services offered in their own languages.

The laboratory technical test is one of the prerequisites to eventual insert internationalized top level labels in the root zone. This test is intended to determine the viability of internationalized top-level names and the effect they may have on the DNS. The work was done by replicating the root server environment. The test intentionally did not incorporate the end-user perspective or a live root test.

Autonomica reported successful insertion using two major server implementations used by most root server operators: BIND and NSD.

The test design was finalized in December of 2006 following a public comment period. The test procedure was published so that others can replicate the test.

Details of the test setup and design can be found here.

Details of the test result can be found here. [PDF, 73K]

For any questions or request for additional details of the test design and result please contact Tina Dam at tina.dam@icann.org

For further information around ICANN’s IDN Program please visit http://www.icann.org/topics/idn

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