IDNs on are the “fast track”

Could it be happening? Finally? After all these years?

Internationalized domain names at last becoming a reality around the world — and not just in China?

It’s looking that way.

For starters, the IETF is in “last call” of IDNAbis — which is a revision to the 2003 IDNA standard. This revision irons out a number of nagging issues (though not all of them) but more importantly lays the groundwork for ICANN, which has “fast tracked” IDNs for this fall.

And then there are the folks who will provide IDN registrations — the registrars and registries. It looks like .EU is going to support IDNs (though details are vague) an Bulgaria is planning Cyrillic IDNs.

What do you think? Are IDNs going mass market — finally?

.EU to offer Greek and Cyrillic support

The European Commission has announced that it will begin supporting domain registration in Greek and Cyrillic characters. This will allow for support of all 23 official EU languages.

The EC hasn’t announced when registrations will be possible. I took a stab at registering a Cyrillic domain name and got an “invalid domain” error. My guess is that we’re looking at FY10 before this becomes a reality — as ICANN is progressing slowly on a formal process for registering IDNs (internationalized domain names).

But the announcement is good news because it gives ICANN another reason to push ahead.

IDNs get on the fast track

So with the “father of Internet” and chief Internet evangelist at Google, Vinton Cerf, chairing the latest IDNA working group and ICANN issuing a fast track PDF document, it appears that we’re really truly absolutely going to see IDNs come to light in 2009.

I think.

I first covered the “coming” of IDNs in 2000. Little did I know then that it would be such a long process.

Granted, IDNs already exist in the eyes of a number of registrars around the world. You can find an IDN registrar today on this list courtesy of Verisign.

But in the eyes of ICANN, IDNs aren’t yet official.

If you’re interested in the nitty gritty of what these ICANN-approved IDNs are going to look like, check out the fast track document. The document makes it clear that IDNs can only be derived from one script. In other words, we should see no mixing of, say, Latin and Cyrillic characters to create a bogus http://www.pаypal.com/ address (try the link out and see for yourself).

Countries that share a common official language will also need to work together to develop a consistent code table of accepted characters. I can see this being a particularly tricky process, depending on the countries involved.

But the good news here is that the number of obstacles appear to be decreasing in number. There are still some issues to be resolved — like how much money ICANN is going to expect for all this effort.

Will acquiring an IDN cost a registrar the same as a gTLD: $185,000?

Or will the fee be minimal in exchange for some type of revenue share based on registrations? All I do know is that there is demand for a fast-track process and the standards folks are now hashing out the final IDNA document.

Next year could be the year.

Really.

ICANN’s IDN site