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On Its Way: One of the Biggest Changes to the Internet | Internet users have key role in testing the operation of example.test in 11 languages

MARINA DEL REY, Calif.: The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers will launch an evaluation of Internationalized Domain Names next week that will allow Internet users to test top-level domains in 11 languages.

“This evaluation represents ICANN’s most important step so far towards the full implementation of Internationalized Domain Names. This will be one of the biggest changes to the Internet since it was created,” said Dr Paul Twomey, ICANN’s President and CEO. “ICANN needs the assistance of users and application developers to make this evaluation a success. When the evaluation pages come online next week, we need everyone to get in there and see how the addresses display and see how links to IDNs work in their programs. In short, we need them to get in and push it to its limits.”

The evaluation is made possible by today’s insertion into the root of the 11 versions of .test, which means they are alongside other top-level domains like .net, .com, .info, .uk, and .de at the core of the Internet.

Next Monday, 15 October 2007, Internet users around the globe will be able to access wiki pages with the domain name example.test in 11 test languages — Arabic, Persian, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Russian, Hindi, Greek, Korean, Yiddish, Japanese and Tamil.

The wikis will allow Internet users to establish their own subpages with their own names in their own language. The evaluation is being done in the 11 languages of the Internet communities that have shown the most interest in moving IDNs from concept to reality.

The full introduction of IDNs will mean that people can write the whole of a domain name in the characters used to write their own language. Presently you can only use these characters before the dot, so .com, .net, .org and the like can only be written in characters from basic Latin. IDNs will change this so that literally tens of thousands of characters will be available to the world.

“Right now only the ASCII characters a through z are available for use in top level labels — the part of the address after the dot,” Dr Twomey added. “Users will be able to have their name in their language for their Internet when full IDN implementation makes available tens of thousands of characters from the languages of world.”

More information on the IDN program is available at: http://icann.org/topics/idn/

Links to the wikis will be available on ICANN’s website starting 15 October 2007.

About ICANN:

ICANN is responsible for the global coordination of the Internet's system of unique identifiers like domain names (like .org, .museum and country codes like .uk) and the addresses used in a variety of Internet protocols that help computers reach each other over the Internet. Careful management of these resources is vital to the Internet's operation, so ICANN's global stakeholders meet regularly to develop policies that ensure the Internet's ongoing security and stability. ICANN is an internationally organized, public benefit non-profit company. For more information please visit: www.icann.org.

Media Contacts:

Jason Keenan
Media Adviser, ICANN (USA)
Ph: +1 310 382 4004
E: jason.keenan@icann.org

International: Andrew Robertson
Edelman (London)
Ph: +44 7921 588 770
E: andrew.robertson@edelman.com


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Domain Name System
Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as""icann.org"" is not an IDN."