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Report on Distribution Analysis of Internationalized Domain Names

In December 2003, the testing phase of Multilingual domains also known as Internationalized Domain Names (IDN), went live with the addition of over 350,000 multilingual domains to the .com and .net registries. As of 1st January 2004, the .com registry contained 300,409 IDN's, whereas the .net registry had 79,630 IDN's, representing around 1.25% of the total .com and .net domains. WebHosting.Info has analyzed these 380,039 IDN domains that are now live, and provided a detailed insight on trends and patterns across these domains.

Our data shows that more than 78% of IDN domains are registered by companies in only three countries - Korea, United States and Japan. Korea alone accounting for 141,447 domains, followed by United States with 84,402 domains and Japan with 72,193 domains. In December 2003, Korea gained a total of 162,213 .com and .net domains, 87% of them being Multilingual domains. In less than a month of going live, IDN's already represent 19% of the total .com and .net domains in Korea and around 14% in Japan.

Japans leading hosting company, Global Media Online Inc.'s (INTERQ.OR.JP) special offers to promote multilingual domains has helped GMO lead the IDN market with a 16.6% market share (63,425 domains), followed Korean hosting company, YesNic, with 36,757 domains. Korea's Gabia.com and IBI.net also top the company list. German giant 1&1 Internet's subsidiary, Schlund.de shows a healthy share in the multilingual domains market as well.

What are Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs)?

Traditionally, domain names were written in ASCII, which is based on English. Internationalized Domain Names (IDN) are domain names or Web addresses, represented by local (native) language characters which includes non-ASCII characters. IDNs are now available in more than 350 languages, such as Korean, Greek, Russian, Chinese etc.

VeriSign introduced a "testbed" for IDN registrations in November 2000 using the "Race" encoding standard and has registered over a million IDN's under this testbed. In March 2003, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) finalized a set of standards for internationalized domain names (IDN). These standards convert foreign language characters into Unicode, a computer industry standard, and then encode these characters in ASCII for transmission over the Internet's DNS. During the discussion phase of the IDN protocols development, there were some competing ASCII-compatible encoding (ACE) schemes proposed but an agreement was reached eventually to standardize on a type of ACE called "Punycode".

VeriSign is now in the process of converting all IDN's to the Punycode standard to meet IDN RFC's. In December 2003, the IDN testbed went live with the addition of over 350,000 Punycode IDN's to the .com and .net live registry system, allowing them to resolve properly around the globe. At the end of April 2004, VeriSign will cease supporting Race registrations and only support Punycode registrations, thus moving away from RACE altogether. All IDN registrars are expected to have completed their migration by February 2004.

For a full report see http://news.webhosting.info/t-833/.

By Namit Merchant, Business Head

Related topics: DNS, Domain Names, Multilinguism

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