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Heated competition for Chinese domain names

Hong Kong, HK Economic Journal, 20 October 2000 -- Since American firm i-DNS.net International started business in the provision of Chinese domain name registration service in Taiwan last December, a heated competition for Chinese domain names has begun. Because of the limited supply of special Chinese domain names, many people consider Chinese domain name as another 'gold mine'. Besides the Chinese domain name technology as provided by i-DNS.net, CNNIC and TWNIC have also separately researched for their set of Chinese domain name format to join in the competition. Initially, due to different reasons, industry professionals were not very optimistic about the prospects of i-DNS.net, but the present development shows that i-DNS.net is now overtaking CNNIC and TWNIC.

Tracing back the development of these three companies, it is somewhat similar to "The Race between the Tortoise and the Rabbit". Besides differences in technique, their development policy and their attitudes towards market changes are also different. This may be the reason as to why i-DNS.net took over the leading role. On the technical aspect, there is a limitation on the operating system when i-DNS.net first launched its Chinese domain name service. The technique uses application software installed in the user's PC or in the ISP's host computer that is compatible with international domain name system to transmit different kinds of character strings, such as Chinese, into unified codes. The process will make it compatible with the presently used international English domain name system. Therefore, it is understandable that users using the Chinese domain name service must be subscribers of an ISP that owns a compatible host computer. However, the technique of domain name format developed by i-DNS.net.net is compatible with all the non-English languages. Besides Chinese, it also supports Japanese, Korean, French, German and Arabian languages.

Generally speaking, there is not much difference in the format between CNNIC and TWNIC. The transmission process is also accomplished through respective system, or by installing transmission software in the clients' layers, so that it is applicable under the English system. But both of them require the users to have an equivalent English domain name. Therefore, technically speaking, there is still some limitation to the technology of these three companies, which is not comparable to the standards set by the English domain name system.

Divergent in policy

Since it is hard to tell whose technique is more superior, why didn't professionals hold an optimistic attitude towards i-DNS.net at first? CNNIC and TWNIC undoubtedly have more absolute advantages in the development of Chinese domain name system. Firstly, they have an enormous market of Chinese net users. In order to extend its market, they have focused on users in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau. Secondly, they respectively control some country code top domain names, such as ., . and so on. Organizations or groups that want to launch Chinese domain names listed above must first be authorized by CNNIC and TWNIC.

In terms of policy, CNNIC adopts a reserved attitude towards i-DNS.net, which has an American background. It hopes to develop a set of Chinese domain name system designed by Chinese people to compete. In spite of i-DNS.net's numerous attempts at making contact, CNNIC did not respond. Michael Ng, the CEO of i-DNS.net.net, said that ever since they started providing service, they had contacted CNNIC, hoping to support CNNIC's Chinese domain name system. But there have been no replies from CNNIC since June.

Forming their own alliances

There exist a more or less competitive bearing concerning the attitude TWNIC holds toward i-DNS.net. According to an insider, i-DNS.net started its business in Taiwan in December last year. But because they did not inform TWNIC of their operations, and also because some of the propagandas used offended TWNIC, till now i-DNS.net has not reached any agreement with the organizations listed above. Confronted with the same foe, CNNIC and TWNIC organized CDNC with HKNIC and MONIC in May. They are discussing about the unification of Chinese domain name format in these four regions. One of those who accelerated this corporation is Huang Shen-jia, the CEO of C-DN. C-DN is the first company authorized by CNNIC and is the agent of the registration service of .. Because of the support of Chinese domain name, it is also applicable to Japanese, Korean and so on.

i-DNS.net is unwilling to lag behind. It contacted more than 10 international groups and companies, including NSI, to hold a meeting in Seoul. It declared the establishment of MINC, and hoped that it can keep in contact with international domain name bodies and ICANN through periodical meetings. It expected to derive a set of domain name system that can support all non-Roman languages including Chinese. Although the organization successfully attracted the participation of JPNIC and KRNIC, CNNIC did not take part in it. Insiders said TWNIC participated holding the attitude of 'know thy enemy and know thyself', in order to gather more information about its enemy.

Because the members of CDNC control the top domain names in the four regions, it is indicated that there is little chance of cooperation between the four regions and i-DNS.net. i-DNS.net did not provide Chinese users with the registration service of typical domain names, such as ., .,.,and .,etc. No wonder general pessimism was held toward i-DNS.net at the beginning. Though i-DNS.net has taken on a leading position in developing the Chinese domain name system, IT industry professionals do not hold optimistic views towards i-DNS.net when CNNIC and TWNIC respectively started its Chinese domain name business.

The changing attitudes toward i-DNS.net make professionals hold confidence to the development in succession. Zhang Xiao, the CEO of Udomain, said that the IT industry is waiting for the accomplishment of relevant systematic tests by i-DNS.net and NSI, and hope that i-DNS.net's multilingual domain name format can go through the world without any obstacles as the English domain name does. What would further influence the heated competition?

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