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"Since its inception, .INFO has served to enable Internet users seeking to internationalize the information they share on the Web," said Philipp Grabensee, Chairman of Afilias' Board of Directors. "With the launch of .INFO German script IDNs, we are very pleased to provide German language speakers the ability to establish names on the Web that will enable them to use Web addresses in their native language. Early registration numbers indicate strong demand for these names and we anticipate a high level of adoption in Germany, .INFO's second largest market worldwide, as well as among German speakers worldwide."
Afilias' German script IDN's are based on the newly approved IDNA 'punycode' standard. 'Punycode' is a standard convention for enabling the Internet, which is based on ASCII characters, to handle non-ASCII input (e.g. ü). 'Punycode' specifies how to convert a domain name that contains encoded characters, such as German script umlauts, into a combination of ASCII characters and adds the prefix "xn--," creating an ASCII string that can be registered as a domain name. While technology to support IDNs globally is still evolving, only Internet browsers that support 'punycode' will enable the resolution of .INFO IDNs immediately. These include Netscape, Mozilla, and Opera. As other applications evolve to support 'punycode,' the Internet users' ability to access IDN sites and use IDN e-mail addresses will increase.
.INFO IDN registrations are accepted on a first come, first served basis. Names registered between 16 March and 14 April will be locked in order to facilitate intellectual property disputes. Those interested in registering a .INFO IDN name should contact an ICANN-accredited and Afilias-authorized registrar of their choice.
.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.