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ICANN Bringing the Languages of the World to the Global Internet | Fast Track Process for Internationalized Domain Names Launches Nov 16

Seoul: The first Internet addresses containing non-Latin characters from start to finish will soon be online thanks to today's approval of the new Internationalized Domain Name Fast Track Process by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers board.

"The coming introduction of non-Latin characters represents the biggest technical change to the Internet since it was created four decades ago," said ICANN chairman Peter Dengate Thrush. "Right now Internet address endings are limited to Latin characters – A to Z. But the Fast Track Process is the first step in bringing the 100,000 characters of the languages of the world online for domain names."

ICANN's Fast Track Process launches on 16 November 2009. It will allow nations and territories to apply for Internet extensions reflecting their name – and made up of characters from their national language. If the applications meet criteria that includes government and community support and a stability evaluation, the applicants will be approved to start accepting registrations.

" This is only the first step, but it is an incredibly big one and an historic move toward the internationalization of the Internet ," said Rod Beckstrom, ICANN's President and CEO. "The first countries that participate will not only be providing valuable information of the operation of IDNs in the domain name system, they are also going to help to bring the first of billions more people online – people who never use Roman characters in their daily lives."

IDNs have been a topic of discussion since before ICANN's inception. It's taken years of intense technical testing, policy development, and global co-operation to prepare the Fast Track process for its coming launch.

"Our work on IDNs has gone through numerous drafts, dozens of tests, and an incredible amount of development by volunteers since we started this project. Today is the first step in moving from planning and implementation to the real launch," said Tina Dam, ICANN's Senior Director for IDNs. "The launch of the Fast Track Process will be an amazing change to make the Internet an even more valuable tool, and for even more people around the globe."

More information of the Fast Track program is available online at:

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:

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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."