The development of Internationalized domain names has progressed rapidly in tandem with the tremendous growth in Internet usage.
If you take a moment to consider, you will realize that everybody’s first step in beginning their Internet experience is the actual input of a short chain of alphabets or symbols in their URL bar.
Of special relevance to the Chinese market, is the advent of Chinese domain names. These will eventually become a necessity for enterprises and individuals seeking to entrench their Net-presence on the World Wide Web.
Fig. 1 USA has the highest percentage of the registered domain names - 50%. China is catching up fast with its current placing at 10th.
Fig. 2 There has been a surge in the number of registrations for localized domain names recently. (under .com)
2. A Comparison Study on the Development of Domain Names
- Resolving domain name queries using the current Domain Name System (DNS)
For example (see Fig. 3), when we input “i-DNS.net”, the DNS server receives a query via a client/end user’s browser, the DNS server then checks its cache to resolve the client’s query. And if successful, the DNS server transmits the results back to the client, returning the IP 22.214.171.124.
If the DNS query cannot be resolved from the data that is within its own server cache, it will send a request to a DNS root server. The latter will determine which Top Level Domain (TLD) or Country Code Top Level Domain (CCTLD) the domain name belongs to. The TLD or CCTLD domain server will then determine which server it should forward the data to for further resolving.
- The development of the Chinese domain name system
In the past, the DNS has always resolved domain names using Latin-based alphabets or Internet Protocol Numbers. English is currently the most common global language, and generally does not pose any problems to users in the technical or business sectors.
However, with the Internet’s growing popularity in the non-English speaking countries, logging on to the Internet still poses a challenge for the general public. To a non-English speaking user, remembering a long chain of English alphabets is an arduous task, and this inevitably hinders the development of the Internet.
Presently, domain names such as '' has already been used on the Internet, and to the Chinese, being able to use domain names rendered in their own mother tongues will definitely be easier to remember and much more comprehensible. Take '' for example, a domain name as such would certainly not be an obstacle to our local users. But what is the current situation with Chinese domain names?
Since 1998, CNNIC has been appointed to carry out research work in the Chinese domain name system. After two years of research, analysis and design, the Chinese domain name system finally made its debut appearance in early 2000. The various reports by the media and domain name registries created a mad rush for Chinese domain names. Within the first day of launching its Chinese domain name registration trial, CNNIC received a total of 36,000 Chinese domain names application.
What it took the English domain name system two years to achieve in its course of development, the Chinese domain name system did it in a single day. This only goes to show the potential of the Chinese domain name market. However, although the Chinese domain name registration system has been launched for almost half a year, we have yet to see any practical advancement. Chinese being able to log on to the Web using their mother tongue is still just so much market prattle.
Chinese domain names are still not employable for practical usage, and the crux of the problems seems to boil down to technical constraints. Although companies such as 3721 have created tools to assist Chinese users in utilizing the Internet, it is still a long way from realizing its true potential.
Is there then a more advanced technology? The answer is yes.
US-based i-DNS.net International Inc. (i-DNS.net) has developed the Internationalized Domain Name System (i-DNS). Backed by General Atlantic Partners, LLC, i-DNS.net was set up in October 1999.
The i-DNS technology was first developed at the Singapore National University (NUS) over two years of research and development, with advice from the Asia-Pacific Networking Group (APNG).
Currently, i-DNS.net is able to support 55 non-English languages, providing a seamless link between websites using different languages (accounting for some 90% of non-English users world-wide.)
i-DNS.net has also engaged registrars partners in Japan, Korea, India, US, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan. It has accepted registrations of multilingual domain names by numerous companies and organizations worldwide, including Yahoo, Bank of China, Sony and Cathay Pacific Airlines.
- Resolving Multilingual Domain Name Queries using i-DNS
CNNIC’s domain name registration system
CNNIC’s Chinese domain name system is designed as an external ancillary system to the existing domain name system. The system translates the Chinese domain name query into an English domain name, and then mapped to its IP via the system server.
If the domain name server does not support a Chinese domain names, users can install a client-based software. If the user’s domain name is already installed with the Chinese domain name server software, users need not install the client-based software.
i-DNS' Chinese domain name system
i-DNS is a unique domain name resolving system, enabling users to resolve registered Multilingual domain name from any parts of the world. i-DNS technology is able to be used with the various software platforms, eg. Windows, Unix, Linux, etc. It also enables a fully Chinese e-mail system, and supports both the traditional and simplified Chinese characters.
For example (see Fig. 4), the domain name query: ‘’.The client’s browser will send the resolving request to an i-DNS-compatible server. Here, the multilingual string is first converted to Unicode and then fed through a transformation process from the UCS-4 range to produce a UTF-5 string. The resolving result yields: 126.96.36.199
Fig. 4 If the DNS query cannot be resolved from the data within its own server cache, it will send a request to a DNS root server. The latter will determine which Top Level Domain (TLD) or Country Code Top Level Domain (CCTLD) the domain name belongs to. The TLD or CCTLD domain server will then determine which server it should forward the data to for further resolving.
- A comparison and analysis of the Chinese domain name technologies
Currently, the companies providing Chinese domain name registration for China are i-DNS.net, 3721 and CNNIC. A comparison of their technologies and user-friendliness is outlined in the table as follows. From the table, we can see that i-DNS.net has an edge over 3721 and CNNIC in terms of common usage globally. Moreover, the global standards employed by i-DNS.net far surpasses that of the other two local companies.
This technology is already in use in China, and will benefit local users here who log on the Internet using the mother tongue.
The multilingual domain name market has an enormous market potential.Simply put, it empowers people to come online on equal terms.
Comparison i-DNS 3721 CNNIC Conclusion Server software) uses DNS and i-BIND software 3721 uses Chinese-English domain name matching server database users CNNIC domain name server i-DNS abides by International standards and can be used on a global basis. CNNIC is only useful for Chinese domain names using GB encoding. 3721 has greater restrictions. User browsers' language encoding support apart from UTF-5, UTF-8 and ASCII, it also supports 55 other languages supports both traditional and simplified Chinese only supports simplified Chinese (maybe traditional in the future) i-DNS system has a wider area of usage, enabling users of different countries and languages to browse the Web Translation able to translate domain name into global standard encodings such as UTF-5, UTF-8 and ASCII no no. not compatible with most Internet standards, protocols and application interfaces i-DNS fulfils global standards. CNNIC needs to match up to global standards DNS Resolving Chinese domain names directly resolved to IP addresses key words search, follows by a matching of English domain name, before directing to the relevant target website Chinese domain names resolved to IP addresses i-DNS supports a multilingual environment and resolves directly to the IP address, registered non-Chinese users will only have to input the domain name in their own mother tongues to locate the desired websites. This process is much faster supports email does not support supports email i-DNS' Chinese domain name system enables Chinese email addresses. User Registration Internet users can register on-line only users with 3721 Chinese software can register only users with cDNS software can register i-DNS targets at global users, while 3721 and CNNIC are more restricted. Ipv6 Support yes no no i-DNS has been reviewed by International regulatatory bodies, and fulfils global standards. CNNIC is still in the process of perfecting its various standards, edging towards global standards. Regulatory bodies approval i-DNS: www.i-dns.org; i-DNS WG No no
Registration Approval Procedures IETF open procedures no to be confirmed
-- i-DNS.net shall not be held liable for the views and opinions of the authors expressed herein.
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