ICANN shared some data about the considerable progress made to deploy Internationalized Domain Names in the Domain Name System (DNS) root zone file.
In 2010, hostnames used in the DNS were limited to a subset of the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) characters used for alphabetic letters, digits, and the hyphen (known as “LDH”). This meant that non-Latin characters could not be used for website and other domain names that people would type in or click on. However, in 2010, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and others were hard at work creating a robust, globally implementable Internationalized Domain Names in Applications (IDNA) standard that would enable billions of new users to access the Internet in their local language script.
This what has been achieved in Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs):
- Today, 43 IDN country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) and 35 IDN generic top-level domains (gTLDs) are listed in the root.
- Through ICANN’s new gTLD program, an additional 50 or more names are expected to be delegated in the next 12 months.
- This growth includes over 800,000 Cyrillic script IDNs registered under the IDN ccTLD рф; 750,000 Han script IDN ccTLDs under 中国/中國 and 台湾/台灣 and 12,000 under Arabic script ccTLDs. More examples can be found in the World Report on Internationalized Domain Names 2014, available at: http://www.eurid.eu/files/publ/IDNWorldReport2014_Interactive.pdf [PDF, 6.19 MB]
- ICANN is actively working to promote participation from the community in forming Generation Panels for 28 scripts. These scripts are used to write the contemporary languages of the world and develop a script based Label Generation Ruleset (LGR). The LGR will be used to check the validity of TLD labels and generate any variant labels. Generation Panels still need to be formed for many scripts including: Cyrillic, Greek, Gujarati, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Sinhala, Tamil, Thai and others.
- The current technology continues to pose challenges for the use of IDNs, as the technology was primarily designed around the limited use of ASCII characters. ICANN has launched an initiative for universal acceptance of IDNs, which works to bring stakeholders together to promote technologies that support IDNs, including internationalized email addresses.
But what do these improvements mean in practice? By December 2013, there were over 6 million IDN domain names; which represents over 2% of the total number of domain names. This translates into a 215% growth in the last five years, an impressive increase in a short period of time.