IDN – What is it?

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Internet domain names containing at least one label that is displayed in software applications in a language specific script are classified as IDNs an internationalized domain name . These software applications can be displayed in whole or in part, using a script or alphabet such as Arabic Chinese, Russian, or Tamil. Latin alphabet characters with diacritics, such as French, can also be used. Computers encode these writing systems in multi-byte Unicode. IDNs are stored in a Domain Name System as ASCII strings using a Punycode as a transcription.

IDNs can only be used with applications designed for a specific use. The Domain Name System, which looks up user-friendly names to translate network addresses for locating internet resources, is restricted for use for ASCII only. This is a practical limitation, initially setting the standard for what could be an acceptable domain name. Making domain names international is a technical solution to translating names written in different languages, making them into an ASCII text representation that will be compatible with the domain name system.

IDNs were first proposed by Marin Dürst in December 1996. It was later actually implemented in 1998 by Leong Kok Yong and Tan Juay Kwang, under the guidance of Tan Tin Wee. Competing name proposals led to much initial debate, but later the naming system was finalized into IDNs an internationalized domain name. This is the current standard, and has been used in several high-level domains.

To buy an IDN, first it must be registered with ICANN, the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. This can be done through any domain name registrar. There is a registration fee involved, and must be renewed annually to hold the domain name. Some commercial web hosts will register the name for free. Others will register the name put require the requester to pay the registration fee.

When registering the domain name it is important to use a reputable hosting service. Less trustworthy services have been known to register a domain name under their own name, rather than the requester. This will make the hosting service the registered owner instead of the requester. In this position the hosting service can actually charge the requester for continued use of the name, leaving little recourse for the requester.

GoDaddy.com, Register.com, and eNom.com are all respectable hosting services to register a domain name. Once a service is secured, it is a simple matter of checking whether the desired name is free to use or has already been registered. After finding an acceptable name, paperwork is filled out and the fees are paid.

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