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An analysis of Chinese Domain Name strategies

Hong Kong, HK Economic Journal, 25 October 2000 -- CNNIC, IWNIC and i-DNS launched their Chinese domain name standards one after another. However, CNNIC and TWNIC arrived at a consensus that "the Chinese people should take charge of their own matters" (see relevant materials published by CNNIC on Oct 22nd). Further more they organized CDNC after consorting with HKNIC and MONIC in May so as to establish a standard for Chinese domain names system internationally. Therefore, Chinese domain names can basically be divided into two groups, CNNIC and i-DNS.

It was reported last week that because CNNIC owned "innate" advantages, professionals in the IT industry did have an optimistic attitude towards the development of Chinese domain name standard. But the situation changed greatly since 24 Aug this year. The reason lies in the turn of event where i-DNS.net has partnered with Network Solutions Registry, the worldwide largest top domain name registrar belonging to Network Solutions Inc of Verisign (U.S.). i-DNS.net will provide NSI Registry with the technology in support of non-English domain names to help more users register generic top level domain names under different languages, such as .com/. net/. org, etc.

The most significant advantage of this technology is that users can surf the net using Chinese domain names without installing any plug-ins or obtaining help from their ISPs.

It is just like how we use English domain names today. Through DNS Root Server, which is regarded as the translator of non-English domain name and certified by ICANN, it can transmute domain names in different languages into their equivalent IP addresses, so as to connect to the relevant websites. There are altogether 13 DNS Root Servers, which archives the generally used top domain names worldwide, such as .com, .net, and and .org.

NSI declared yesterday that they have formally started the business of providing the service of domain name registration in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean languages. Please refer to the section on Technology and Economy in our newspaper for detailed report.

We should note that there still exist differences in Chinese domain names published by the NSI Registry and CNNIC. Our newspapers will give detailed report on the differences.

There are 3 types of Chinese domain name systems that are currently popular in Hong Kong's market. They are .// format by i-DNS early this year, and the ./ format as released by C-DN, the first company accredited by CNNIC. It should be noted that both i-DNS and C-DN support registrations for the format ., but the systems are not compatible with each other. The third type is .com/net/org, as offered jointly by NSI Registry and i-DNS.net. Besides, some regional top domain names, such as .cc, .tv etc, have successfully liaised with i-DNS.net to provide multilingual domain name service, such as .cc, .tv and so on. Basically speaking, there are no technical differences between the two listed above and .com.

The cooperation with NSI Registry is a strategic step of great success to i-DNS. Michael Ng, the CEO of i-DNS.net, said that the next step is to popularize the .// format, to attain the level of popularity as with .com/net/org.

This situation is very favorable to i-DNS. This company is in a very advantageous position. Its .com is much more popular than that of CNNIC. Also it can wait and see the change of CNNIC so as to carry out its own policy. Besides making the format . compatible with .com, the next most important step to be taken by i-DNS.net would be to get certificated by IETF, so that it can be the standard system for Chinese domain names. Mr. Huang revealed that the company's chief technical officer is a member with the board of directors of IETF, and this would help them know the latest developments with IETF.

Why are CNNIC and TWNIC lagging behind despite the fact that they were initially in an advantageous position? The main reason is that they are still government agencies not attuned to prompt reactions to market changes, which make them seem inexperienced to market-savvy i-DNS.net. The office director of CNNIC, when interviewed by Beijing Morning Post, pointed out the shortcomings of CNNIC. He said that CNNIC is after all a non-profit body run by the government. Under the management rules and restrictions of China's Domain Name Policies, it could not take active action in market competition like other companies. This can explain why CNNIC started business to provide Chinese domain name registration service in Jan, but only began authorizing C-DN to start this service in Oct this year.

UDomain, authorized by CNNIC to provide registration services for Chinese domain names, said that though they cooperated with CNNIC, they still do not totally understand their policy, and the policy has been subjected to changes every now and then. Actually, since CNNIC published its statistics report on China's Internet development in June this year and released its list of top ten websites, it has been subjected to criticism. A series of accusations towards CNNIC began, which included that its registration fees were three times higher than that for international domain names. CNNIC was also accused of intentionally withholding some valuable domain names for later commercial usage. Though those accusations might not be factual, they showed an irrevocable fact that the operations of CNNIC lacked transparency and efficiency.

When NSI and i-DNS.net started providing registration services for domain names like .com; CDNC, a consortium headed by CNNIC and TWNIC, publicly declared on 22 Oct that this service was not formally authorized by ICANN. Additionally, an article called "Chinese Domain Name, the Task of CNNIC" published by CNNIC, said that they relate the administrations of Chinese domain names with sovereignty rights, to which they argued the Chinese should be given the rights to develop it. The technique of .com is compatible with that of i-DNS.net and NSI, hence it can be popularized worldwide without the help of ISPs. But professionals pointed out that because the managing bodies of domain names in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau are still in the process of a revamp; the question of when they can launch a Chinese domain name system in competition with i-DNS.net remains unknown.

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