Egypt, host of the United Nations sponsored Internet Governance Forum being held this week, Russia and China were among the first countries to submit applications to ICANN for internationalised domain names (IDNs) in non-Latin characters.
In total six countries applied for IDNs in three languages. Saudi Arabia was another country known to have applied, also applying for an IDN in Arabic, along with Ukraine.
ICANN, the organisation charged with overseeing the Internet’s naming and numbering systems, has invited applications for IDNs, receiving the first applications on Monday this week, as part of its IDN country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) Fast Track Process.
IDNs are domain names that include characters other than the currently available set of the English alphabet (the 26 letters “a-z”, numbers 0 to 9, and hyphens). ICANN Chairman Peter Dengate Thrush noted, “The IDN program will encompass close to one hundred thousand characters, opening up the Internet to billions of potential users around the globe.”
Egypt’s application is for .MISR, which is the equivalent in ASCII characters as the Arabic language term for “Egypt”. Egypt’s Communications Minister Tarek Kamel said the process of implementing IDNs would require “strong investment in the coming phase.”
“There will also be issues to deal with: linguistic, technical, legal, related to intellectual property and many other big challenges,” Kamel told reporters at the IGF.
China’s application is for .中国 domain name suffix while Russia has applied for .РФ and Ukraine applied for .УКР.
It is anticipated the first ccTLD IDNs will come online in 2010.