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Status Update: IDN ccTLD Fast Track Process Implementation

ICANN is pleased to provide the following status report on the progress of implementation of the IDN ccTLD Fast Track Process. Overall, the implementation is tracking to the project plan and it is planned to be submitted to the Board during the ICANN meeting in Korea, Seoul, 26-30 October 2009. Discussion of the implementation plan will continue during the Korea meeting and the plan can be amended if a change is indicated. Anticipating positive Board consideration, the process can be launch within a very small timeframe after the Seoul meeting (in the fourth quarter of 2009).

The proposed Final Implementation Plan will be posted online for public review at the end of September 2009, and a new status update of the overall implementation will be provided prior to the Korea meeting.

Implementation Update:

  • DNS Stability Panel: Interisle has been contracted to form the DNS Stability Panel that conducts the technical string requirement evaluations for requested IDN ccTLDs. This includes a verification that the delegations of new TLD strings will not result in user confusion with any existing strings in the DNS. Interisle is currently in the process of forming the DNS Stability Panel for Fast Track Process String Evaluation and providing on-boarding material to panel members.

  • Online Request System: the online system through which IDN ccTLD requests will be submitted is in the final stages of development and testing. The next three weeks will be used: (i) finalize the online content (ii) perform a legal review (iii) undertake a live test. As part of the live test ICANN has consulted with representatives of five countries and invited them to participate in testing of the system. Testing includes: submitting a test request in the system, processing / qualification by staff, providing feedback on the test to participants. These tests will run from the end of September through 9 October after which a new status report of overall Fast Track implementation will be released.

  • Online IDN area: the IDN area online will be revised with an FAQ, factsheets, and a manual reference for use of the online request system. The new and improved site will be released prior to the Fast Track Process launch time.

  • Linguistic Processes: there are a few aspects of the Fast Track Process that are related to linguists or require the advice or statements from experts in writing systems. An important piece of this relates to the requested string(s) as a meaningful representation of a country or territory name. UNGEGN has agreed to support Fast Track participants as needed with referrals to such expertise. The referrals will be provided through an ICANN point of contact and the method for requesting such expertise will be described in the proposed Final Implementation Plan. ICANN plans to support to those requiring linguistic assistance.

  • Outstanding issues: several topics that has been discussed in public comment on implementation proposals of the Fast Track Process since the initial draft implementation plan was released on 23 October 2008. These include: (i) the form of relationship between an IDN ccTLD manager and ICANN, (ii) cost considerations regarding contribution to processing and TLD support costs, (iii) management of variant TLDs. Solutions to these issues have been discussed, and it is believed that current opinions or positions of each community segment is well understood.

For questions, please contact Tina Dam, at ICANN, at: tina.dam@icann.org.


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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."