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The Internet shows true character

Online, www.f2.com.au, 25 January 2000 -- MELBOURNE-BASED domain name registry Internet Names WorldWide is preparing to launch a new domain name registration service that enables people to register their domain name using Asian and European character sets.

The move was aimed at boosting access to the Internet and would open an entire new market for domain names.

Clive Flory, general manager of INWW, a division of Melbourne IT, said: "What it means is that Intel.com is no longer on their posters or their business cards as Intel.com. It will be in Chinese so people won't have to look at English characters or type in English characters to get to the website.

"It has huge potential to open up new markets and to me it's giving people that don't speak English true access to the Internet. They're not constrained by having to deal in characters that only half the world deals in."

INWW already offered registration of domain names of up to 63 characters in the global .com, .net and .org domain name spaces as well as in the .com.au domain name space.

INWW announced last week that it would provide the capability for customers to register domain names for periods spanning from one to 10 years rather than the more usual two.

Under a newly concluded strategic partnership between Melbourne IT and United States website hosting company, Verio, INWW would provide domain name registration services to Verio's 525,000 domain name holders.

Flory said INWW planned to launch the new service in March. It would be licensing use of the technology from i-DNS.net International. The technology, known as the Internationalised Domain Name System (i-DNS), was developed at the Internet research development unit at the National University of Singapore and implemented as a pilot project in April 1998.

i-DNS.net, which was formed in November, had already launched registration services in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

At the company's launch last year, i-DNS.net's interim CEO John Wong said that familiarity with the English language should not be a prerequisite for Internet use.

"Asking a non-English speaking Chinese to remember a string of alien English alphabet (characters) to reach your website may be tougher than asking him to remember a string of numbers," he said.

An estimated 119million English-speaking people used the Internet, compared with an estimated 96million non-English speaking users.

INWW was still in discussions with i-DNS.net about a number of issues, including a pricing structure and whether each variation of a domain name would need to be registered separately.

Flory, who was in Singapore this week to discuss the move with i-DNS.net, said INWW planned to launch the new service in about 30 non-English character languages, including three different varieties of Chinese, Japanese, Tamil, French and Spanish.

INWW would tie the service to both its international market - .com, .net and .org - and the .com.au domain name systems.

"It's very new," said Flory. "There's still a lot of work to be done to enable this to happen on a broad-based scale because a lot of the ISP community have to then support this ... so that the names can be resolved properly."

Flory said INWW planned to seek the cooperation of ISPs via its network of channel partners. INWW had more than 600 channel partners around the world.

-- i-DNS.net shall not be held liable for the views and opinions of the authors expressed herein.
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