For the first time in the history of the Internet, non-Latin characters are being used for top-level domains. The first IDN country-code top-level domains were inserted in the DNS root zone earlier today. The associated countries and their respective IDN ccTLDs are:
Egypt: مصر (Egypt)
Saudi Arabia: السعودية (AlSaudiah)
United Arab Emirates: امارات (Emarat)
These are the first IDN ccTLDs to appear online as a result of the IDN ccTLD Fast Track Process which was approved by the ICANN Board at its annual meeting in Seoul, South Korea on 30 October 2009.
The first requests were received starting 16 November 2009. The process enables countries and territories to submit requests to ICANN for IDN ccTLDs, representing their respective country or territory names in scripts other than Latin.
So far, ICANN has received a total of 21 requests for IDN ccTLD(s) representing 11 languages. A total of 13 requests have successfully passed through the “String Evaluation” (the second stage of the process) and are hence ready for the requesting country or territory to initiate the request for TLD Delegation (the final stage of the application process). As of today, the first three of these have been delegated into the DNS root zone, which means they are available for use.
Arabic has now become the first non-Latin script to be used as an IDN ccTLD. Arabic is among the most highly used languages on the Internet today. The Middle-East has an average Internet penetration of just over 20%, and shows a big potential for growth. Users in the region will now have easier access to the Internet, with the ability to use their primary language for the entire domain name.
About the IDN ccTLD Fast Track Process:
The IDN ccTLD Fast Track Program requires participants to demonstrate that they fulfill a number of requirements:
- the script used to represent the IDN ccTLDs must be non-Latin;
- the languages used to express the IDN ccTLDs must be official in the corresponding country or territory; and
- a specific set of technical requirements must be met (as evaluated by an external DNS Stability Panel comprised of DNS and IDN experts).
The request and evaluation processes entail three steps:
- Preparation (by the requester in the country / territory). Community consensus is built for which IDN ccTLD to apply for, how it is run, and which organization will be running it, along with preparing and gathering all the required supporting documentation.
- String Evaluation: incoming requests to ICANN in accordance with the criteria described above: the technical and linguistic requirements for the IDN ccTLD string(s). Applications are received through an online system available together with additional material supporting the process at: http://www.icann.org/en/topics/idn/fast-track/
- String Delegation: requests successfully meeting string evaluation criteria are eligible to apply for delegation following the same ICANN IANA process as is used for ASCII based ccTLDs. String delegation requests are submitted to IANA root zone management.
To reach another person on the Internet you have to type an address into your computer—a name or a number. That address has to be unique so computers know where to find each other. ICANN coordinates these unique identifiers across the world. Without that coordination we wouldn’t have one global Internet. ICANN was formed in 1998. It is a not-for-profit public-benefit corporation with participants from all over the world dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable. It promotes competition and develops policy on the Internet’s unique identifiers. ICANN doesn’t control content on the Internet. It cannot stop spam and it doesn’t deal with access to the Internet. But through its coordination role of the Internet’s naming system, it does have an important impact on the expansion and evolution of the Internet. For more information please visit: http://www.icann.org/.