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ICANN Discusses Future of the Internet in Sri Lanka

Domain names in local languages and scripts pave the way towards a multilingual Internet

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Colombo, Sri Lanka… The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) today discussed the evolution of the Internet's Domain Name System (DNS) and its potential implication for Sri Lanka.

ICANN is currently overseeing one of the biggest changes ever in the history of the Internet with its New Generic Top-level Domain (gTLD) Program. This is driving the largest expansion of the DNS, promoting choice, competition and innovation for the benefit of consumers and businesses.

ICANN is also enhancing the usability of the Internet through the introduction of Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs). IDNs will enable the global community to use a domain name and access content in their native language or script.

Sri Lanka currently has an Internet penetration rate of approximately 32 percent, which is below the average penetration of 46.7 percent in Asia1. However, rapid rise in mobile broadband subscriptions can change that. According to the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka, mobile broadband subscriptions have risen from just over 90,000 subscriptions in 2009, to over 4 million in June 2017.

"The DNS' expansion will help provide for the growing Internet community in our region. In a time when everyone and everything is going digital, a website and domain name are essentials for every business, including people. We are seeing the Internet evolve as more people coming online can do so in their own languages," said Champika Wijayatunga, ICANN's Security, Stability and Resiliency Regional Manager. Wijayatunga is also responsible for the engagement and outreach in the South Asia markets, including Sri Lanka.

In Sri Lanka, where Sinhalese and Tamil are commonly spoken languages, the IDN program will enable non-English speaking Sri Lankans to come online using their native scripts.

One of the key pre-requisite is the formation of a Generation Panel (GP). Consisting of local experts from policy, technical and linguistic fields, the GP helps to determine rules to form valid top-level domains in the local script. The launch of the Sinhala GP today brings Sri Lankans one step closer to accessing the Internet's domain name system using domain names in their scripts and languages.

Jayantha Fernando, Program Director / Legal Advisor of the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA), was also present at the media briefing.

He said, "The Internet has become an integral part of our everyday life, and has created the opportunity for social and economic growth, resulting in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector becoming the 5th largest revenue earner for the Sri Lankan economy. The Sri Lankan government recognizes the importance of the Internet, and is supportive of an open, interoperable and secure Internet for all our citizens. It is in this context that we support this initiative and we hope that through this, more Sri Lankans can come online to enjoy the benefits of the Internet."


For more information on the new gTLD program, please visit here.
For more information on IDNs, please visit here.

Media Contacts


Liana Teo
Head of Communications, APAC
Tel: +65 6816 1259
Mobile: +65 9796 5500

Fiona Aw
Global Communications Coordinator
Tel: +65 6816 1264
Mobile: +65 9113 6621


ICANN's mission is to help 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 helps coordinate and support these unique identifiers across the world. ICANN was formed in 1998 as a not-for-profit public-benefit corporation and a community with participants from all over the world.

1 Source: Internet World Stats

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."