IDNs coming in 2010. Really.


It’s beginning to feel like Groundhog Day when I read these “IDNs are coming” articles.

Here’s one I read this morning about ICANN’s meeting in Seoul, happening now, where the powers that be are expected to approve “fast track” IDNs.

The article notes:

“This is the biggest change technically to the Internet since it was invented 40 years ago,” Peter Dengate Thrush, chairman of the ICANN board, told reporters, calling it a “fantastically complicated technical feature.” He said he expects the board to grant approval on Friday, the conference’s final day.

Okay, so Friday is the day.

Now when will IDNs enter the real world (aside from China, where they have been in the real world for years now):

Rod Beckstrom, ICANN’s new president and CEO, said that if the change is approved, ICANN would begin accepting applications for non-English domain names and that the first entries into the system would likely come sometime in mid 2010.

Wait a second. Weren’t IDNs supposed to be launched this year? Or 2007?

I shouldn’t make a big deal about this. IDNs are not trivial. The smart folks in the IETF have been working extra hard to finalize the new tech standard. The security risks are real and tests needed to be conducted over the past year before moving ahead. The logistics of managing the rollout among the world’s registries is significant. And let’s not get started on how IDNs will impact applications and the companies who support them.

IDNs are happening though. As they should.

Of the 1.6 billion Internet users worldwide, Beckstrom — a former chief of U.S. cybersecurity — said that more than half use languages that have scripts based on alphabets other than Latin.

“So this change is very much necessary for not only half the world’s Internet users today, but more than half of probably the future users as the use of the Internet continues to spread,” he said.

By the way, ICANN has a new Web design. I like it.

PS:  Here’s a great op-ed on IDNs and how far they have yet to go…

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