Starting from today, HKNet will leverage upon this groundbreaking technology and open registration of Chinese-language domain names. The cost for the registration is HK$960 per domain name for the first two years plus a handling charge of HK$500 and HK$480 per year afterwards. HKNet is now the second largest subscription Internet Service Provider (ISP) in Hong Kong.
"HKNet is proud to be the first company in Hong Kong to offer registration of Chinese-language domain names. This is an absolute breakthrough and an excellent alternative for non-English speaking Internet users, in particular - the Chinese, who make up roughly a quarter of the world's population," said Charles Mok, Deputy Managing Director of HKNet.
"As a pioneer in the local telecommunications market, HKNet is committed to bring the highest standard of service to our business and residential users. With the rapidly expanding popularity of Internet among the Chinese population, we believe the introduction of i-DNS technology presents tremendous business opportunities, especially the development of e-commerce," he continued.
According to the Hong Kong Network Information Centre (HKNIC), there are over 27,000 domain names currently registered in Hong Kong, all of which are in English. The emergence of Chinese domain names will not only open up a new dimension for the Internet, but also provide a significant incentive for even more Chinese as well as non-Chinese companies to develop content specifically targeted at the China market. The introduction of Chinese domain names will spark another growth spurt for website development.
i-DNS technology is the result of over 2 years of intensive research and development at the National University of Singapore under the auspices of the Asia Pacific Networking Group (APNG). i-DNS.net provides a registry function and maintains a database of multilingual domain names encompassing the multilingual equivalent of generic top level domains like .com, .org and .net.
"i-DNS technology allows users to interact on the Internet in their preferred language and enhances the potential for e-commerce businesses. Additionally, it opens up tremendous business opportunities in China, which is one of the fastest-growing Internet markets in the world," Mok added.
Currently, domain names can only be registered in English alphabets, Roman numbers and other symbols. This new technology overcomes this restriction and will eventually pave the way for registration of Internet domain names in 36 different languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, French, German, Finnish, Arabic, Hebrew, etc. More importantly, it is fully compatible with commonly used Internet browsers and inter-operable with the existing domain name system.
For Chinese characters, this technology supports encoding systems in both Chinese Big5 and Chinese GB. Users will be able to access the same website using domain names registered in either encoding.
As Internet user growth in the Greater China region is expected to increase significantly over the next 5 years, this new technology will play a definitive and pivotal role in integrating Chinese-oriented users with the Internet.