ICANN Gives Asia Its Dot

In a move reflecting the growing Asian flavor of the Internet, the Internet
Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) yesterday approved the
first top-level domain registry based in the Asia-Pacific region.

The .asia top-level domain will join other Asian-Pacific Internet domains,
such as Japan, China, and South Korea already managed by DotAsia
Organization. The addition brings the total number of Internet domain
suffixes to 266.

Despite the fact that more than 64 percent of Internet users coming from non-English-speaking countries and Asian speakers comprise 33 percent of the online
population, only 11 percent of .com or .net registrations come from
Asia, argued the Hong Kong-based DotAsia.

The new .asia top-level domain will provide “a clear brand to reach and
enrich the broad global community,” according to the organization.

As part of that outreach effort, DotAsia is considering allowing domain
names to use the Asian alphabet. ICANN is also investigating a similar
expansion for domain naming.

For owners of domains using existing .cn (China) or .au (Australia)
country code domains, the new .asia domain means users will need to pay
for both top-level domains, as internetnews.com previously
reported.

Increasing international participation in the international naming process
was just one of the objectives outlined in ICANN’s newly released strategic
plan for 2007 to 2010. ICANN must ensure its practices are “designed to
serve and support a global audience as effectively as possible,” according
to the strategy statement.

ICANN said the next three years must be used to implement the agreement
it signed with the Commerce Department on moving the Internet domain name and addressing system to
the private sector.

That agreement with the federal agency relaxes government control over the
Internet agency’s practices, releasing ICANN from the need to report to the
DOC every six months. The new contract, which lasts until 2009, moves the
semi-governmental ICANN to a more private-sector group.

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