There are several “hot” topics in the domain world at the moment. The introduction of new gTLDs, which I have touched on, is one, while the introduction of IDN (internationalised domain names) is another.

For most of this site’s readers IDN isn’t that important.

Most of our clients, with some exceptions, are English speakers.

Of course the world is not an English speaking world, even if some people would like people to think it was.

So what exactly is this IDN stuff?

In simple terms IDN allows you to put non-ASCII characters into a domain. A very obvious example would be an accent. In the Irish language, for example, a lot of people’s names and place names have accents, but at present you cannot register domains WITH the accent.

Of course accents are only the tip of the iceberg.

Imagine being able to register domain names in Cyrillic? Or place names in kanji?

So which TLDs support IDN?

That’s a very good question!
There are mixed levels of support among the gTLD operators. There seems to be a higher level of “real” activity within the ccTLD world.
You can, however, peruse the resources on the Verisign site.

So which ccTLDs support IDN?

There’s a list over on Wikipedia, though I’m not sure how accurate it is (wikipedia is very useful, but you can never be too sure how reliable the information is)

Eurid are talking about introducing IDN for the .eu namespace, but we can expect that to take at least another 12 to 18 months before there is anything for users. (See Stephane‘s recent post which is more optimistic)

IEDR like to say that they are ready to introduce IDN, but haven’t made any move to do so even though they have been asked about it more than once in the past. (They’re waiting on “a positive indication of market interest” whatever that is)

Nominet on the other hand has devoted time and resources to IDN

Whether IDN will become widely available in 2009 or 2019 is moot. It’s on the way and when it gets here it will open up a whole range of exciting opportunties for people whose language is not English

Of course it also opens up a whole range of new problems as well, but doesn’t everything?