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IT group cracks wall of China

Online, theAge.com, 6 July 2000 -- Melbourne IT will be the world's first one-stop shop to register Internet domain names using Chinese, Arabic and Japanese characters, snaring a new market worth millions of dollars.

Chinese names will be the first Internet addresses to be auctioned off by the local dot-com, starting in four weeks. Other languages such as Tamil will follow.

The registration of Internet domain names in Chinese has a potential audience in the billions and opens a gateway to the lucrative and populous non-English speaking Internet community.

Investors immediately rejoiced in Melbourne IT's foreign foray, sending the stock up by $1.30 to a high of $10.20. Melbourne IT shares eventually ended 20 cents stronger at $9.10.

Until now, people who wanted to register Internet domain names needed a basic understanding of Roman script.

But Melbourne IT has negotiated a licensing deal with Singapore-based i-DNS Technology, which has developed a system allowing computers to read non-Roman characters.

Melbourne IT will sell the new names through its division Internet Names WorldWide.

Its next goal is to offer a suite of Internet names using numerous European languages, with French, Italian and Spanish addresses to be ready in six months.

INWW general manager Clive Flory said the product would be popular with individuals and businesses who wanted Internet addresses in their native language.

"The potential is huge," he said.

"We are looking at the birth of the first truly international Internet community where language is no longer a barrier."

Melbourne IT, an offshoot company set up by the University of Melbourne, recorded the second-biggest stag rise in the Australian Stock Exchange's history in 1999 when it floated at $8.20 - more than 270 per cent above its offer price of $2.20.

During the dot-com boom last year, its shares went as high as $17.

The company registered 300,000 names in the three months to March, and Mr Flory said the demand from Chinese and other non-English customers could match that.

"Internet Names WordWide has a unique opportunity to be involved at the early stages of what promises to be a rapid expansion of Internet adoption by the non-English speaking world," he said

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