Archive for May, 2010

IDN ccTLDs- Our Work is Only Just Beginning

Monday, May 31st, 2010

By Adrian Kinderis

Last week, I was invited by the United Arab Emirates’ Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (TRA) to join ICANN President and CEO Rod Beckstrom at the official launch of the امارات. (.emarat) Arabic script IDN ccTLD. The event was held in Abu Dhabi and was hosted by H.E. Mohamed Nasser Al Ghanim Director-General of the United Arab Emirates TRA.

AusRegistry International has enjoyed a strong partnership with the TRA for a number of years now and I am particularly proud of the role our organisation is playing in supporting the Domain Name industry in the UAE with both the .ae, and now the امارات. namespaces.

The launch was a formal recognition of the leading role that the UAE is playing in the introduction of IDN ccTLDs, the most significant transformation of the internet landscape since the creation of the Domain Name System in the 1980s.

This expansion of the internet’s addressing layer to include non-Latin scripts removes a fundamental hurdle that has excluded billions of people in language communities that do not use the Latin alphabet from experiencing the full benefits of the internet revolution.

I would like to congratulate our colleagues  at the TRA on the achievement of this historic milestone and make special note of Rod Beckstrom’s generosity in taking the time to come to the UAE to participate in this event.

It is important however, to recognise that while the introduction of IDN ccTLDs is a critical and necessary step in the expansion of internet accessibility, ICANN’s vision of ‘One World, One Internet, Everyone Connected’ currently remains a distant spot on the horizon.

Whilst I sat there amongst the celebration, I began to think about the questions and topics  that will need to be addressed as we strive to transform IDNs from an exciting opportunity, into something both viable and sustainable.

To realise the full potential of IDN ccTLDs we all have a long road ahead. The work completed thus far is really only the beginning.

There is no doubt we have a great product at our utilisation, however we must also accept that a product is only as good as the market situations that surround it.

Product Demand and Uptake

•    Is the IDN value proposition strong enough to drive change in Registrant and end user audiences?

•    Who will be the early adopters and influencers in the uptake of IDN ccTLDs?

•    Where can we expect IDNs to be positioned? Is it Value or Price?

End User Behavioural Change

•    Will Registrants and end users be open to the change presented by IDN ccTLDs?

•    To what extent will Registry operators and Registrars need to invest in marketing and education to drive behavioural change within the end user audience?

•    Will IDNs play a role in pulling end users away from search based browsing?

User Experience

•    How will developers of web browsers and other internet applications overcome the complex technical challenges that IDN ccTLDs introduce?

Internet Penetration

•    What changes can countries introducing IDN ccTLDs expect to see with respect to penetration and usage figures?

•    Will IDNs play a role in driving online business and market expansion? If so, will governments support this business opportunity?

Registrar Channels

•    To what extent will Registrars take a leading role in educating the user community?

•    What is the makeup of a typical IDN Registrar? Is it any different than an existing Registrar?

Marketing

•    What role will IDN ccTLDs play in marketing strategy and execution for leading brands?

•    How will marketers handle the transition and implementation of IDN ccTLDs?

•    What affect will IDN ccTLDs have on search marketing?

I have been, and will continue to be a strong supporter of the IDN program and am genuinely excited about the transformational effect our work and the work of others is having across the globe.

And please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not pretending to have the answers (at least not yet!) what I am trying to display here is that there is a lot of thought, hard work and dedication still required to realise the full potential of IDN ccTLDs.

Some of these answers need to come from the experts  and leaders within the industry, and others will merely become apparent as we learn and evolve with the revolutionary and exciting changes our industry is experiencing.

In the mean time, we should celebrate this significant achievement, but keep one eye carefully focused on the exciting task that lies ahead.

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Celebrating the launch of the .emarat IDN ccTLD (from left to right), AusRegistry International CEO Adrian Kinderis, H.E. Mohamed Nasser Al Ghanim Director-General of the United Arab Emirates TRA and ICANN President and CEO Rod Beckstrom.

By the way, Your IDN is live

Friday, May 7th, 2010

By Adrian Kinderis

Just when you think ICANN has got it right, it shoots itself in the foot as only ICANN can.

Unfortunately it seems this is yet another case of one step forward and two steps back.

While we should be celebrating the fact that Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) have finally been entered into the Root Zone, we are instead left shaking our heads at the seemingly nonexistent process lines nor communication lines between ICANN and its technical off-shoot IANA.

Before I delve into the embarrassing incompetency of IANA, let us not lose sight of the overall achievement. IDNs have been championed by many people both at a technical and administrative level – not the least of which is Tina Dam, Senior Director of IDNs at ICANN and her team.  They are an excellent example of tireless dedication and professionalism and Tina herself has devoted a large part of her ICANN career to ensure that IDNs are successfully implemented. She and all those who have worked on this massive body of work should be proud of their efforts. It is a monumental achievement and will be an impressive legacy.

The events of yesterday must have disappointed them greatly.

So what has me (and many others) ticked off? Well read on…

It is my understanding that the responsible IANA staff member failed to provide prior notification to the relevant ccTLD Managers that these names were about to be entered into the Root Zone.  While that is a very significant concern in its own right, I was alarmed to discover that the relevant ccTLD Managers were only notified many hours after the fact, long after the same IANA staff member had broadcast the news on a personal Twitter account, and even, I believe, after posting an update on the ICANN blog.

IANA staff seem to have viewed this as simply another technical update, which they were at liberty to publicise as they saw fit, without first having the courtesy to inform the most directly affected stakeholders.

This was an inappropriate manner in which to announce an event of this importance. It displays a disturbing lack of understanding and a complete disregard of the cultural and political significance of this event within the Arabic world.

I believe that IANA should take a more coordinated approach to all of its responsibilities, particularly to the addition of new TLDs to the Root Zone, to ensure that the requesting parties are given sufficient prior notice before changes are made.  This is of particular importance in a case such as this where multiple TLDs are being added simultaneously.  It is not clear, for example, whether IANA staff were even aware that this change took place during the middle of the weekend in one of the affected countries. Did they even care to check?

With a further 18 IDN ccTLDs in progress towards delegation, and the prospect of hundreds of new gTLDs to be delegated when the new gTLD program comes to fruition, it is critical that IANA’s communication and coordination procedures be carefully planned and considerate of the needs of the affected TLD Managers.

For me, the fact that certain IANA staff feel it is appropriate to put ‘I run the DNS root zone’ on their Twitter profile, says it all.  Just because you run it doesn’t mean you own it. This cozy university mentality is simply not good enough for an organisation running the most critical component of the global communications network. Your technical function, like it or not, has much broader implications.

Put simply, there is an attitude of arrogance at IANA that they will work to their timelines, and so must we. In this instance, the occasion was bigger than them. To the countries involved, countries with which we are working very closely, it was much more. This marks an historically significant achievement and advancement of the Internet in their communities.

Instead of allowing them the opportunity to celebrate their achievement they have been left to scuttle around and attempt to pull together press releases and notify the appropriate representatives of their countries. Not giving them an appropriate “heads up” and therefore making them look underprepared is unforgiveable – especially when you had previously provided an indication of “up to a month” before these delegations would occur. IANA has shown little respect for their key stakeholders and it simply isn’t good enough.

For what it is worth, congratulations to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates from the team at AusRegistry International. You can be sure that we respect your efforts and achievements as much more than a simple entry into the Root Zone. We wish you every success.

First .emarat Arabic script domain name is live!

Friday, May 7th, 2010

By Jon Lawrence

The .emarat Arabic script Internationalised Domain Name (IDN) ccTLD for the United Arab Emirates has been entered into the DNS Root Zone and is therefore now resolving.

This is a truly historic moment in the development of the Internet in the United Arab Emirates and the wider Arabic-speaking world as it removes the last hurdle preventing people without English-language skills from enjoying the full benefits that the Internet has to offer.

‘.emarat’ is a transliteration of امارات. (note that Arabic is read from right to left).

The first Arabic script domain name is:  عربي.اماراتwhich is transliterated as arabi.emarat.

The deployment of امارات. (.emarat) to the Root Zone represents the culmination of a process that has been ongoing for over a decade, involving tireless work by hundreds of individuals and organisations around the world to extend the support of Domain Name System from the 37 characters previously allowed (the 26 characters of the English alphabet, the digits 0-9 and the hyphen ‘-‘) to the thousands of characters from every language around the world.

The introduction of .emarat highlights AusRegistry International’s commitment to provide full support for the IDNA2008 standard into their Domain Name Registry Software, which has been implemented to enable the .emarat Registry System.

We are honoured to be supporting the launch of امارات. (.emarat), through our partnership with the .ae Domain Administration (aeDA) and the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) of the UAE.  In addition to providing the Domain Name Registry Software, AusRegistry International is also providing consultancy assistance for the launch processes involved in bringing this historic new ccTLD into the market.

As part of the launch of امارات. (.emarat), a Sunrise Period will be held, to allow provide trademark holders an opportunity to protect their rights in this new Top Level Domain.  Following the Sunrise Period, a Landrush Period will be conducted to allow for the registration of high-demand generic domain names.

In addition to امارات. (.emarat), two other Arabic script IDN ccTLDs have also been added to the Root Zone:

السعودية. (.alsaudiah) representing Saudi Arabia

مصر. (.masr) representing Egypt

We would like to extend our congratulations to our friends and colleagues in the United Arab Emirates, as well as in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, for reaching this exciting and important milestone.

A fourth IDN ccTLD, .рф (Cyrillic for ‘rf’) representing the Russian Federation is expected to be added to the Root Zone very shortly