"Most of the sites in Israel have only Hebrew content, they are for an Israeli audience, so why should the domain name be in English?" said DomainTheNet co-founder Yoav Keren.
This also avoids the challenge of trying to spell out the Hebrew names of sites in Latin characters, he said, when there is often more than one choice. For example, the Hebrew word for an orange could be spelled out as "tapuz," "tapooz," "tapoos" and more. The Israeli Internet portal of that name chose Tapuz. Now they can make life a little easier.
Although Hebrew registration only begins tonight, DomainTheNet has been receiving telephone calls from curious parties since the announcement Tuesday morning.
"There is a lot of interest already," said Keren.
The Hebrew domain names will end in either ".com," ".net" or ".org" in Hebrew letters. For the moment, at least, the popular ".co.il" will not be available. Its use is pending review by international standards bodies.
Registration and use of the permitted domain names is enabled through i-DNS.net's Internationalized Domain Name System technology, which supports more than 59 languages.
To enable their subscribers to enter and view domain names in all these languages, Internet service providers need to install a small piece of software from i-DNS.net, said Keren. No Israeli ISPs have yet installed the software, but several are considering doing so, he said.
In the meantime, Internet users can download the client application from i-DNS.net themselves.
i-DNS.net has partnered with another Israeli company, Slangsoft, so that Internet users whose operating system doesn't support the language of the domain name can input text in 47 languages using Slangsoft's intelligent Text Input and Display (iTID) technology, which opens a virtual keyboard on the screen.
DomainTheNet's future plans include offering domain names in Arabic and Russian, whose populations are heavily represented in Israel.