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"For the first time ever, Internet users can register domain names with these German characters and be assured that these registrations comply with Internet standards and will work upon registration." said Philipp Grabensee, Chairman of Afilias' Board of Directors. "The world is multi-lingual and we are pleased that the Afilias' German script launch will pioneer the first time a gTLD will provide Internet users with a standards-compliant international Web address. We also look forward to rolling out support for additional new scripts in the future to better serve the worldwide market."
Afilias' IDN registrations will be launched on the recently approved Punycode standard. Previously, no other generic top-level domain (e.g.: .com, .org, .biz) has accepted Punycode registrations for internationalized domain names. .INFO will be the first domain to automatically accept a non-ASCII name, translate it into the Punycode equivalent and propagate it through the DNS so that it may be reachable through compatible Web browsers without need of a downloadable plug-in.
About German script characters
Until now, users of the German script were unable to register standards-compliant domain names that use umlauts, thus precluding the use of thousands of words, phrases and names on the Internet in their native script. The .INFO German script launch will allow users to register words containing umlauts ("ä", "ö" and "ü") without being required to convert these words to ASCII first and add the letter "e" after the vowels a, o and u.
More than a quarter of a million .INFO domain names have been registered in Germany, of which more than 50 percent are now live, dedicated Web sites. More than 10 percent of these registrations include combinations of common ASCII umlaut equivalents, ae, oe, and ue.
Real-time registrations of German script .INFO domain names will begin on 26 February 2004 at 21:00 UTC on a first-come, first-served basis. Names registered between 26 February and 23:59 UTC 25 March 2004 will be locked by the registry in order to facilitate any potential disputes. On 26 March 2004, undisputed names previously registered will be unlocked for normal use. Names registered from 26 March 2004 onward will be registered in a normal manner, and will not be subject to this introductory locking phase. Normal UDRP processes will apply for any disputes between domain name holders.
Web-browser and E-mail Compatibility
Internet users are familiar with using domains that are written in ASCII characters - on Web sites, in e-mail, and in many other Internet applications. Afilias' IDN solution provides an innovative way by which users can type in their name in their local script, which is seamlessly translated by the .INFO registry system into a format that is safe for transmission over the Internet and the DNS. As a result, business and individual users alike can create Web sites in scripts that represent languages local to the markets they serve, rather than being forced to use English or English equivalents. Users may also use these German script domain names in their e-mail address, depending on the support that is provided by their ISPs and the specific email application they use.
Some Internet applications, such as Netscape 7.1, Mozilla 1.4, and Opera 7 already support the new IDN Punycode standard and will automatically and immediately work for the German .INFO scripts. For applications that are not yet compliant with the new standards, Afilias has developed innovative bridging technology that enables these users to access .INFO IDNs seamlessly - without the need for system upgrades or a plug-in.
Those interested in registering .INFO IDN names should contact an ICANN-accredited and Afilias-authorized registrar of their choice. A list of registrars is available at http://www.info.info/get . Registrants should be aware that submitting any pre-registration requests to a registrar in advance of the launch of IDN registrations, does not guarantee a successful registration of that name.
.INFO was the first generic, unrestricted TLD to be launched since .com. Registrations in .INFO first became available in 2001. Since then, .INFO has grown to become the sixth largest TLD in the world with well over 1 million registrations. 52 percent of .INFO's registrations are based in Europe and 39 percent in North America. Over 70 percent of .INFO's registrations are being used on the Web either for dedicated Web sites, redirects to other Web sites, parked pages, password protected pages, etcetera. .INFO currently contains over 400,000 live sites, of which 33 percent are operated by German registrants.
Afilias, a global provider of domain name registry services, maintains international headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, sales offices in London, England and Düsseldorf, Germany, sales and operational facilities in Toronto, and administrative offices in the U.S. near Philadelphia, PA. Afilias provides a full range of registry services leveraging proven technology that is fast, reliable and secure. Afilias was formed in September of 2000 and was the first new registry operator selected by ICANN in November of 2000 to launch a new registry system using a thick registry model based on the new EPP (extensible provisioning protocol) standard.