Internationalized domain names (IDNs) are required in order to foster the growth of local languages online.

This is the main finding of the EURid-UNESCO World Report on Internationalized Domain Names, which looked at the issue in depth. It concluded that the current ecosystem is not sufficient to encourage multilingualism on the Internet.

IDNs are domain names made up of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Cyrillic or Greek. This development is important because it will drive the use of broadband infrastructure by the local population.

According to a report from the Broadband Commission for Digital Development titled “The State of Broadband 2012: Achieving Digital Inclusion for All,” such a measure will “increase access to linguistically and culturally diverse content and provide new socioeconomic development opportunities.”

The body has warned that worldwide updates of IDNs are lagging, because at present the technology required to provide “a consistent and satisfactory experience for Internet users in several countries” is not in place.

Issues with country code top-level domains (ccTLDs), coupled with infrastructural challenges, means that IDN take-up has not been as successful as possible in some regions of the globe.

According to the report, there were 63 languages on Google Translate in June 2011, while 285 languages are supported by Wikipedia. On top of this, 70 languages are currently recognized by Facebook.

The Broadband Commission for Digital Development wants to see policymakers give more attention to developing strategies that will promote the deployment and raise awareness of IDNs as an essential part of digital literacy in their areas.

It added broadband can be used as an enabler of local language content and IDNs can act as a “benchmark for the creation of enabling environment and infrastructure.”

Since 2009, there have been 31 IDN ccTLDs introduced across 21 countries and territories. One of the biggest problems identified by the report is that popular applications and websites in the creation of user accounts have poor support systems in place.

Learn more

To learn more about IDNs and best practices for their use, download CSC’s recent white paper, “A World of Opportunity: Making the Most of Internationalized Domain Names.”

IDNs ‘key to online multilingualism growth’
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