agencyfaqs! New Bureau,
NEW DELHI, November 16
Search for a common word in a regional language. Chances are a non-resident Indian has already registered it as a domain name. But there is still a chance for aspiring cyber squatters. Last week, VeriSign Global Registry Services, the company in charge of Internet domain names ending in .com, .net and .org, decided to accept non-English characters to make the Internet truly global. Currently, one can register an Indian word as a domain name, but the name itself must be typed out in English characters.
Initially, VeriSign will accept only Chinese, Japanese and Korean characters. Other languages, including Hindi, could follow. As new technology allows surfers to access web content in their regional languages, the rush to register these names has picked up in right earnest. Software, such as the new versions of Lotus are also an indication of the way the market is blowing.
NASSCOM estimates that there was a 54 per cent growth in domain name registrations from 1999 to 2000. The proliferation of the Internet in rural India, which industry analysts see as the next growth industry, will also need multilingual interfaces.
Some engineers are opposing the change, feeling that a multiplicity of characters on the net will led to chaos. They say that since the algorithms that are used to register domain names have been designed for use with English characters, thousands of domain name servers need to be updated, and for this, software will have to upgraded as well.
But nobody is listening. Last week, when the market for domain names in Asian languages opened up, most common names such as business, politics, sports, arts, and politics were snapped up.
Industry analysts see the same phenomenon happening in India, though many names have already been taken up - jaldi.com being one example. Others, such as chaitime.com, are hybrids. Yet, all these names are typed out in English characters.
Analysts expect the trend in India to reflect the one worldwide. People who had the foresight to register names that were common in the English language became millionaires and gave the English language a new word, cyber squatter. The market comes from the vast masses of rural India, where companies, to communicate on the net, will have to use Indian languages in Indian script.
Web addresses are now limited to the 26 letters of the English alphabet, 10 numerals and a hyphen - 37 characters in all. The addition of Asian character sets brings the total to 40,282 and could boost Internet usage abroad. The Internet, invented in the United States, adopted English as its official language, and specifically a character set known as ASCII. There are now attempts to link up all language characters using Unicode.
VeriSign is developing a system to automatically translate Unicode-based Asian characters into an ASCII string. Once this is done, then it will be possible to have Indian domain names in local language script
English keyboards can be used for typing out the new languages, the only technical adaptation needed being the addition of character sets for other languages to input non-English Internet addresses.
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