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IDN Laboratory Testing Progress

ICANN continues to make progress toward laboratory testing for strings corresponding to internationalized top level labels (IDNs). The purpose of the laboratory tests were described during the ICANN meeting in Morocco held earlier this year ICANN and they are being designed and conducted under the guidance of the ICANN Presidents Advisory Committee for IDNs.

ICANN is very pleased to be able to announce the engagement of Autonomica AB to develop, conduct and report the results of the laboratory test. The test will include insertion of a Punycode string into the "root" as replicated in a laboratory environment. The purpose of these tests is to clarify and document any issues that may arise, if any, when inserting puny-code strings representing top level domains into the root zone.

Among ICANN's core values is the technical security and stability of the DNS. Therefore, laboratory technical tests of the viability of internationalized top level levels and the effect they may have on the DNS is being done before insertion of such labels in the root servers. After the performance of the laboratory test and after appropriate consultation with interested entities, a live root test will be initiated. The live root test process and making participation publicly available is being discussed by the President's Advisory Committee for IDNs. The committee will publish a recommendation in this regard as soon as it is finalized. It is important to note that participation in these tests are not mandatory nor will participation create a favouable position when IDN TLDs are designated.

As soon as the test design and framework has been developed by Autonomica, it will be made available online at ICANN welcomes replications of the test and will post any results online for public review and for comparison opportunities.

The agreement between ICANN and Autonomica plans to complete the laboratory test and report the results by the ICANN meeting in Sao Paolo. After that reporting a determination will be made in a collaborative manner as to whether it is considered technically appropriate to initiate a test of punycode string directly in the root zone.

The criteria and list of the strings that will be used for the testing purposes is being worked on by a sub-group of the Presidents Advisory Committee for IDNs and the paper describing this initiative will be published shortly.

For more IDN relevant information and announcements please see

About Autonomica AB: Based in Stockholm, Sweden, Autonomica provides technical support in the fields of the Domain Name System, Electronic Mail, and Internet Exchange Point Technologies. The firm's staff often provide advice to and works with the Internet Engineering Task Force and the Internet Architecture Board.

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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"""" is not an IDN."