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Düsseldorf, GERMANY - 12 February 2004 - Afilias, a global provider of Internet domain name registry services, announced Thursday that it has moved the launch date for .INFO German script internationalized domain names (IDNs) to 16 March 2004. The move is the result of compatibility testing with various end-user system configurations. These tests revealed that modifications were necessary to address problems resulting from the interaction of IDNs with certain non-IDNA  compliant browsers, which may send information to the registry that could result in confusion over the actual location of a given IDN.
"Afilias is making changes to avoid potential problems for the end-user. Moving the launch date to 16 March was decided to accommodate our distributors, who needed time to make the additional modifications to their registration systems," said Philipp Grabensee, Chairman of Afilias' Board of Directors. "We chose to move the launch date to preserve the integrity of the DNS and the end-user Internet experience. We are committed to deploying a standards-compliant solution that works without creating customer confusion."
Earlier this year, Afilias announced that it would enable Internet users to register .INFO Web addresses with the German script umlaut characters: "ä", "ö", and "ü". Originally scheduled for 26 February, this launch will be the first time a generic top-level domain will accept registrations based on the newly approved IDNA 'punycode'  standard, without the use of a plug-in.
In preparation for the launch, Afilias has been performing extensive compatibility tests of IDNs under different environments, including various non-IDNA compliant browsers under different Operating Systems combined with different language versions. These tests showed the possibility of cases where different versions of these browsers may translate binary characters differently (e.g.: Müller.info and Möller.info may both translate to the same binary output). This results in an ambiguous DNS request that may result in a conflicting registry response for the actual location (IP address) of the IDN.
To avoid such conflicts, Afilias has developed an innovative registry solution that would prevent potential new colliding names from being registered, thereby ensuring that an Internet user can reach the unique Web address they are intending to visit. This registry solution introduces a change to the registry software that prevents this ambiguity, and which registrars need to incorporate into their systems.
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 here
.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.