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ICANN Discusses Future of the Internet in Asia Pacific

New multilingual domains paving the way for the next billion Internet users in Asia Pacific

Bangkok, Thailand… Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) executives and local IT leaders convened in Bangkok today to discuss the continued development of the Internet's Domain Name System (DNS) and Internet growth in the Asia Pacific region. The discussion further explored how the region can increase Internet penetration and leverage the Internet more innovatively.

Given the Internet's growing importance in today's society and economy, the discussion was a critical opportunity to address pressing issues to Internet growth in the region.

"The DNS is expanding and will cater for the expected continued exponential growth in Internet penetration, especially in the Asia Pacific region. 15 years ago, there were less than 500 million Internet users globally; today we have more than 3 billion, with Asia Pacific accounting for almost half of all users. Fuelled by the growth of smartphones, many developing markets in the region are now able to gain Internet access," said Rinalia Abdul Rahim, an ICANN board member.

"Since 2013, ICANN has rolled out more than 700 new generic Top Level Domains. This is significant, as online identities and presence are important for individuals, organisations and companies. The expansion of Top Level Domains will change the way we use the Internet and even how we interact with brands or companies. This is one of the biggest changes to the Internet since its inception," Rinalia continued.

The new generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) program is a major evolution of the DNS, potentially introducing up to 1,300 new domains.

The program also ushers in the first Internationalised Domain Name (IDN) gTLDs. IDNs are domain names represented by letters or characters in different scripts and writing systems. They offer the possibility of using the Internet in different languages, including Thai, Chinese, Hindi and others, paving the way for a truly multilingual Internet with greater flexibility and opportunities for billions of users.

"There are more than 6000 languages in the world of which about 50 percent are spoken in the Asia Pacific region. This diversity adds challenges to the Internet domain space, but with IDNs we allow for many of these languages to be represented," said Sarmad Hussain, Senior Manager of ICANN's IDN Program.

There are currently 61 IDN new gTLDs that have been launched and 47 IDN country code TLDs representing 37 countries and territories.

According to Thailand's Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, there are currently 35 million active Internet users in Thailand, with a penetration rate of 54 percent. The country also has 97 million mobile connections, many of which have Internet connectivity. These numbers can be expected to increase with new gTLDs and IDNs.

Representatives from the Electronic Transactions Development Agency of Thailand (ETDA) also participated in the discussion, outlining their work with the Thai Internet community to ensure awareness and development IDNs in Thai script, as well as their involvement in Internet governance initiatives.


For more information on new gTLDs, please visit:

For more information on IDNs, please visit:

Media Contacts

Liana Teo
Head of Communications, Asia Pacific
Tel: +65 6808 6669

James Cole
Global Media Coordinator
Washington, D.C.
Tel: +1 202 733 7598


ICANN's mission is to ensure a stable, secure and unified global Internet. To reach another person on the Internet you have to type an address into your computer - a name or a number. That address has to be unique so computers know where to find each other. ICANN coordinates these unique identifiers across the world. Without that coordination we wouldn't have one global Internet. ICANN was formed in 1998. It is a not-for-profit public-benefit corporation with participants from all over the world dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable. It promotes competition and develops policy on the Internet's unique identifiers. ICANN doesn't control content on the Internet. It cannot stop spam and it doesn't deal with access to the Internet. But through its coordination role of the Internet's naming system, it does have an important impact on the expansion and evolution of the Internet. For more information please visit:

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."