The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) will use a meeting in Seoul this week to discuss how best to implement non-English language web domains.
The organisation explained that the meeting will "set a milestone" in the development of Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs), as Icann considers a fast-track process for a limited number of governments or administrations.
The fast-track process is being considered in order to meet the "immediate needs" of these governments, as well as providing a proof-of-concept model for the long-term roll-out of IDNs.
Icann chief executive Rod Beckstrom said that IDNs, which could be addresses made up of Korean or Cyrillic characters, for example, will change the internet and its user experience dramatically.
"This is one of the most exciting developments for users of the internet globally in years. IDNs will enable people the world over to use domain name addresses in their own language," he said.
Icann added in a statement announcing the beginning of the fast-track adoption process that the international top level domains will offer "many new opportunities and benefits for internet users around the world by allowing them to establish and use domains fully represented in their native languages and scripts".
However, Icann said that application developers also had to embrace the new domains, and make it possible for users to register and use clients and services in their own language.
"Not all application software is capable of working with IDNs. It is up to each application developer to decide whether or not they wish to support IDNs," said Icann.
"This can be browsers and email clients, for example, but also sites where you sign up for a service or purchase a product and need to enter an email address."
Sam Pickles, lead enterprise field systems engineer at F5 Networks argued that the introduction of IDNs could spur massive growth in internet usage, which may bring with it new problems.
“We’ve been warned in the past that the internet is in danger of melting down, and while I don’t think that’s going to happen on a grand scale, reliance on what is in some cases pretty ancient infrastructure with single-points-of-failure will almost certainly mean frequent inabilities to access photos, data, e-mail and so on that are increasingly stored on a server somewhere in the world rather than on our home PC," he added.
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