This rapidly expanding start-up company originated in March 1998 as a research project under the supervision of Dr Tan Tin Wee, an NUS academic who founded its Centre for Internet Research. In conjunction with the Asia Pacific Networking Group (APNG), where Dr Tan recently retired as Chairman, the i-DNS project grew to become a regional test bed.
"The commitment of the National University of Singapore in the project's initial development, followed by investment from General Atlantic Partners, demonstrates how both industry and academia can effectively collaborate to grow viable technology companies in Asia, taking new the technology beyond research to full production scale implementation," said Dr Tan.
The company, i-DNS.net, has been set up with the purpose of pioneering the global deployment of the new i-DNS technology and championing the use of multilingual domain names. Currently, domain names such as yahoo.com can only be registered in English alphabets. This new breakthrough technology overcomes this restriction and allows the registration of Internet domain names in any language -- Chinese, Japanese, Korean, French, German, Tamil, Arabic, etc. At the same time, it is fully compatible with popularly used Internet browsers. More importantly, it is inter-operable with the existing domain name system.
For example, Yahoo Japan can have a web address like http://www.i-dns.net, while a local Internet Service Provider like Pacific Internet can provide Internet accounts in Chinese such as . This multilingual capability provides a new freedom of choice which was previously not available in the old technology.
Mr John Wong, interim CEO and Chairman of i-DNS.net, sees immense value in this enabling technology as it can unleash the hidden e-commerce potential of the non-English-speaking Internet markets.
"With over 68 percent of the world population being non-native English speakers, i-DNS bridges the gap that has previously hindered Internet access by such users," he said.
"Familiarity with English should not be the hidden prerequisite for anyone who wishes to use the Internet. Denying these people the right to access the Internet in their own language is absolutely unacceptable." Dr Tan agreed.
"The original purpose of the domain name system (DNS) is to help users remember Internet addresses without having to memorize a long string of Internet protocol numbers," he explained.
"Asking a non-English speaking Chinese to remember a string of alien English-alphabets to reach your website may be tougher than asking him to remember a string of numbers. i-DNS will enable him to remember the website in Chinese. It will give a strong boost to carrying out e-commerce in countries where English is not comfortably used."
i-DNS.net plans to provide language support in virtually any language and penetrate the Internet world with strategic i-DNS servers located in Singapore, Japan, Korea, China, India, United States, United Kingdom and Australia. Backed by General Atlantic Partners, a global player in the IT investment business, the company will further widen the network reach by working in partnership with global connectivity providers like AboveNet and PSINet, where i-DNS servers are already co-located.
i-DNS technology integrates seamlessly with existing standard Internet software and protocols, without needing additional software for the end users. "This makes the technology easily available for rapidly growing non-English consumer markets," observed Mr James Seng, Chief Technology Officer of i-DNS.net.
"We recognize that global consumers of new technologies now demand the ability to 'plug-and-play' in their own language, and for this reason we must meet the needs of consumers unlike ever before," he said.
Mr Seng hopes to bring together Internet users who without i-DNS may never have had the opportunity to communicate efficiently. "We look forward to forming strong working relationships with Internet service providers and resellers, and at the same time we'll continue intensive research and development to further improve our services to Internet users" he said.
As a business and investment proposition, Mr John Wong is confident of the potential of i-DNS.net in the global marketplace. Considering that in just the Asia Pacific region, Internet user growth is forecast by the International Data Corporation to grow by leaps and bounds over the next five years, i-DNS.net is well positioned to play a pivotal role in integrating the Asian Internet markets.
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