VeriSign joins multilingual domain name party

The World Wide Web starts living up to its name

VeriSign has joined the growing movement for foreign-language domain names. Existing customers will be allowed to register .coms, .nets and .orgs in French, German, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Swedish (and another 56 languages).

The company will use the registrations to test its encoding system for foreign characters. The sites, it reckons, will then go live two to three months later.

VeriSign isn't the first to offer people domain names in their own language (i-DNS.net was there a long time ago). It is, however, the first well-known Western registrar that has made a point of offering multilingual domains. The ability to register domains in anything but English ASCII text only started in November.

Asian domain names, of course, have been doing great trade for some time. Mostly, it must be said, because languages like Chinese and Japanese are represented by a different alphabet. But with the huge expansion of the Net, it is growing away from the US and English-dominated situation. People want to read Web sites in their own language (fair enough) but despite only 5 per cent of the world having English as a first language, about three-quarters of all Web sites are written in English.

We think they're all wrong because having everything in English makes our lives 100 times easier, but if you must, you must.

Actually, registering multilingual domain names is rapidly becoming a big topic and threatens to open up the congested global top-level domain system all over again. Those registrars that get in early - if they can handle the demand - are onto a winner.

If you're interested in knowing more, check out what Patrick O'Brien (VP of i-DNS.net) had to say about it all at the WIPO conference in Geneva recently. It's in an Acrobat format (pdf) and you can download it by clicking here. Meanwhile, we're gonna have to get round to registering www.leregistre.com, www.elregistro.com and dieregister.com. ®

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