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When can I register domain names under IDN TLDs?

ICANN hears this question all the time at meetings, events, in different online forums, on the idn.icann.org wiki, and in emails and phone calls. The great challenge is it the answer isn’t the specific “as of this date” answer so many people want to hear. Because of the nature of some critical functions that still needs to be finalized, such as for example the policy process, we’re only able to provide an estimate.

Right now both the GNSO and the ccNSO are taking a look at how IDNs can be introduced or delegated at the top-level – how you can get, say, all-Arabic-cahracters after the dot in a domain name. ICANN have processes for delgation of ccTLDs and there have been a couple of rounds in the past years for introduction of new gTLDs, but none of these included IDN TLDs.

For the GNSO this is a matter of the general process for introduction of new gTLDs. There is lots of information on this at: http://gnso.icann.org

The ccNSO is working on two processes right now – the overarching policy development process (PDP) for having IDN equivalents of the country-code top-level domains, and a fast-track process to find a way to introduce a limited number of “IDN ccTLDs” to represent territory identifications in characters from their their local languages in operation as ccTLDs as quickly as possible in the areas of highest need, without impacting the long-term policy process for the full implementation of IDNs.

The first draft report for the fast-track work has just been posted for public comments and will be discussed further during the ICANN meeting in Delhi. All IDN interested parties are urged to provide their comments on the report. The announcement and comment forum can be found here: http://www.icann.org/announcements/announcement-01feb08.htm

But back to the question. While both the fast-track and the process for introduction of new gTLDs are aiming at being available by mid- or late-2008, it will still take time to see IDN registrations because the next step will need to happen. IDN TLD operators need to step forward, get approved/delgatons need to take place, and start operating with registry operator going through any launch phase that they may have determined provides the best service to the community they are intending to serve.

Simply, even though processes are underway together with the rest of the IDN related work, it’s impossible to give a final or specific date for end users to get through all of those steps. That said, everyone working on this understands the incredible desire in the community and across the globe to have the first registrations under IDN TLDs. We are going to get there together.

Comments

    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."