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China-Government Approved Chinese character Internet domain names, widely usable in China, available for registration

General, i-DNS.net International, 1 March 2005 --

Singapore, 01 March 2005

i-DNS.net International Pte. Ltd., the Singapore-based company that pioneered the concept and technology behind multilingual domain names, also known as Internationalised Domain Names (IDN), in an exclusive partnership with CNNIC, the Chinese Internet Agency responsible for Domain Names and with the approval of the Ministry of Information Industry of the People's Republic of China (MII, http://www.mii.gov.cn/mii/zcfg%5Cgonggao20021122.html), announces the availability of Internet domains completely in Chinese characters. The domain names are available under the top-level Simplified Chinese character extensions ".公司" (i.e. ".gongsi" which means "company" in Chinese) and/or ".网络" (i.e. ".wangluo" which means "networking") where the "dot" character can be typed in either English (ASCII) or Chinese. MII has endorsed these Chinese domain names at the Domain Name Management Policy announcement.

Owing to extensive pre-launch preparations over the past year for the distribution of the necessary enabling software amongst the more than 100+ Million Internet end-users in China, names registered now can be immediately accessed and used by more than half of these Chinese Internet users. This wide usability has been achieved by a successful program to distribute tens of millions of plug-in software via all major search engines,portal sites and bundling with major Chinese software developers in China (n.b. over 2 million a month via Baidu, Sohu, Sina and others http://www.enet.com.cn/enews/inforcenter/A20040618318285.html) and to require all 4 major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who account for some 95% of all end-users to adopt the necessary software to enable their users. It is expected that the continuing effort to increase widespread usability, with ongoing progress to enlist ISPs and portals in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, should result in near-100% usability within the coming year in the Greater Chinese end-user community. This community accounts for roughly one-quarter of all worldwide Internet users today.

"We are proud to be involved in a unique cooperation with the Chinese authorities that encompasses both technology exchange/operation of the system and exclusive marketing rights", said Prof. S. Subbiah, co-founder and Chairman of i-DNS.net, a National University of Singapore (NUS) spin-off company (http://www.i-dns.net). He added, "After a soft-launch within China several weeks ago and MII's active public encouragement of such Chinese domain names (http://tech.sina.com.cn/i/w/2004-09-03/0936418120.shtml), some 30,000 names - including names by the rightful trademarks owners of international brands like Rolex and Tudor as well company names by multi-national corporations like Societe Generale, Dell and Starbucks - have already been registered in these newly-government approved Chinese names of the form 名字.公司 (i.e. 'name.gongsi') and 名字.网络 (i.e 'name.wangluo'). Now i-DNS.net and its authorized Registrars, like LGA Telecom in Singapore, being the sole source of these names outside of China, have begun offering early registration to its current and former customers, starting with the Singapore market". He continued, "The purchase of Simplified Chinese names from the i-DNS.net/CNNIC partnership will automatically allow the corresponding web-site to be accessed by an equivalent, computer-generated domain name in Traditional Chinese characters (i.e. used in Hong Kong and Taiwan) free of charge. Conversely, one can also buy a Traditional Chinese name directly and get an automatically assigned Simplified Chinese version free".

The Director General of CNNIC, Mao Wei, said, "We have already established a framework of registrars nationwide in China, and we and our registrars have been very active in assisting corporations in China, in particular the small and medium enterprises, to understand the need to claim their domain name resources that are completely in Chinese characters. Within China, the recent launch of Chinese Domain Names has attracted many corporations in registering their own Chinese Domain Names. To handle the growing demand and interest, 15 states, including Beijing, Shanghai etc. have been designated as regional centers in the effort to continue educating the public." He added "Now that China has become one of the world's most dynamic economies, we believe that foreign multinational companies can expedite their marketing goals in China by registering these Chinese-character domain names since the emerging Chinese Internet consumer is predominantly a non-English speaker and strategically best approached via the Chinese language".

It is therefore natural for us to ensure that foreign entities who wish to protect their Chinese language domain names in the .公司 and .网络 extensions are able to participate early on in the process. Therefore, we are very pleased to partner with i-DNS.net to bring this early opportunity to people outside of China now."

"It is heartening to see that 20 years after the Internet Domain name system in English was invented, and 7 years after we at NUS invented and pioneered the concept, and 6 years after we at NUS conducted an Asia-Pacific deployment testbed with a dozen nations and languages, and after 5 years of lukewarm commercial deployments in various parts of the world, with the majority being a misguided attempt at trying to get multilingual peoples to accept two-language hybrid domain names (e.g. the Chinese-English 'multilingual.com' names from Verisign), finally we have broken the political logjam and witness a major community – the Chinese – turning the promise into daily Internet reality" said Prof. Tan Tin Wee of NUS, who pioneered this technology at NUS in 1997 and 1998. Dr. Tan is widely acknowledged as the father of the modern multilingual domain name movement and was also the former chairman of the Asia-Pacific Networking Group, APNG, which under his chairmanship ran the Asia-Pacific IDN testbed in 1998/9.

"It is worth noting that the current Greater Chinese Internet community, with most being in China, accounts for roughly half of the multilingual community from a language/script point of view and for whom the English/ASCII characters are insufficient as labels for Internet domain names since the majority do not speak English and hence had been left out of this phenomenon. Furthermore, we project that by 2007/8 this Greater Chinese community will account for more than half of all Internet users, surpassing English as the main language of the Internet. So, the fact that China has championed this and most importantly already enabled both widespread usability and given its legal backing and authority over domain name disputes etc., signals that from a numbers point of view half the multilingual Internet peoples today are already enabled" said Khaled Fattal, the Chairman of the Multilingual Internet Names Consortium (MINC) that was founded in mid-2000 to champion the day-to-day use of multilingual (i.e. in hundreds of native languages/scripts other than ASCII/English) names like domain names and email addresses on the Internet. He added, "With the enabling of China’s masses, MINC is well on its way to achieving its global mission of making it possible for any citizen to access the Internet in their own native language and help guide the remaining 4+ billion peoples or so who do not speak English and who are not yet on the Internet to have one less bridge to cross the Digital Divide."

It is important to note that, for the sake of clarity, that these Chinese domain names, completely in Chinese characters, are not to be confused with and are not in anyway connected with the Chinese/English hybrid domain names like 我的名字.com and 我的名字.net that have been marketed with mixed success since 2000 by Verisign. These are neither China-government approved nor widely usable in China.

All purchased names would be protected for trademark and other rights by the dispute policy and regulations set by the Chinese government under the agreement that every domain name registrant will enter into with the mainland government authorities at the time of purchase.

"We strongly suggest that companies in Singapore, particularly those with global or mainland China directed aspirations, to quickly lock in their business names and trademarks as Chinese domain names, before they find them legitimately taken by others" said Yew Hock Meng, COO, of LGA Telecom Pte. Ltd., a Singapore-based i-DNS.net authorised Registrar since 2000. He added, "Already some major global brandnames like L’Oreal and BMW have run into some trouble. While the Chinese have a strict and fair dispute mechanism, with strong rights for existing trademark holders in place, one needs to understand that they can only legally protect, and help recover names from others who register it, if one’s trademark has already been registered in China in the exact Simplified Chinese characters. So we cannot emphasize strongly enough, why Singaporean companies should take advantage of this unique opportunity to register relevant Chinese names via authorised Registrars like us, before it is made available shortly in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and elsewhere".

These names can be purchased immediately from LGA Telecom Ltd. by visiting http://lga.i-dns.biz. Potential registrants who cannot speak or type Chinese can also register names via an on-line transliteration service provided at a modest fee.

It is advisable to hurry and lock-in names of interest to avoid disappointment. With a one stop-purchase one can protect one's business and trademark interests in the Chinese marketplace which is expected to grow from the current 100+ Million eyeballs to more than half of all worldwide Internet users by 2007/8.

About i-DNS.net
Headquartered in both Menlo Park (California, USA) and Singapore, with representatives/offices in China, Taiwan, France, India, Korea, and Middle East, i-DNS.net International is the world's leading provider of multilingual Internet domain name and email addressing solutions. Since 1999, it has pioneered the successful input and resolution of multilingual, native-character domain names known as Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs). While providing a full suite of domain name and email addressing solutions to registries, registrars and end-users across the globe, it has worked with strategic partners like VeriSign Inc [Nasdaq:VRSN], Register.com [Nasdaq:RCOM], Melbourne IT, dotTV Corporation, eNIC Corporation, Global Media Online, CNNIC, Dotster, HKnet, Whois Corporation, Emirates Explorer, Regtime and Internet Egypt. Together with local in-country partners and several national governments, the Company has launched its registration services across the globe in more than 50 languages. It powers or has powered most of the IDN services launched by existing ICANN cctlds and gtlds like .com, .net, .org, .dj, .ai, .la, .cc, .tv, .eg and .jp. By championing the use of multilingual domain names and email addresses, i-DNS.net seeks to bridge the gap that has hindered Internet access for non-native English users of the world. For more information please visit the www.i-dns.net web site.

The China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) was founded in 1997. It is a nonprofit organization of administration and service, performing duties of the National Internet Network Information Center. The management of CNNIC is handled by the Computers Network Information Center of the Chinese Academy of Science. CNNIC operates under the auspices of China's Ministry of Information Industry (MII), an agency that also oversees telecommunications, multimedia, broadcasting and satellite transmissions across China. Among its many duties, CNNIC provides domain name registration, IP address distribution and autonomous system (AS) codes distribution. For more information see the http://www.cnnic.cn web site.

About LGA Telecom
LGA Telecom, wholly owned subsidiary of LGA Pte Ltd, has been a pioneer in the Internet Industry since 1995. Today LGA provides enterprise and SMEs solutions to do business securedly over the internet anytime and anywhere globally. LGA provides and manages both voice and data services for their clients in the most efficient and economical means with minimum down time. For more information about LGA Telecom, please refer to its website at http://www.lgatelecom.net.

About MINC
MINC is the Multilingual Internet Names Consortium, formed in June 2000 to promote the internationalization of Internet names including multilingual Internet domain names. Over the years, MINC has established a wide range of links with international organizations and stakeholder organizations including ICANN, ITU, WIPO, IETF, as well as language groups such as JDNA (Japanese), CDNA (Chinese), INFITT (Tamil), EuroLINC (European Languages), CYINC (Cyrillic), GLWG (Georgian), Arabic (ALSWG) amongst many others, with African Swahili and Cambodian language WGs recently initiated. Our language groups develop their own language and variant tables, and coordinate with each other on these tables. They also discuss other IDN associated issues like the development of Dispute Policies and the use of IDN in software applications. For more information about MINC, please refer to its website at http://www.minc.org.

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