Cyrillic Domains Gives Russian Internet Users Greater Confidence Online

Internationalised Domain Names that enable internet users whose language is a non-Latin-based script, which in effect are all non-English languages, are becoming more common. ICANN, who has been gradually approving more IDNs through ICANN’s IDN ccTLD Fast Track Process has now approved IDNs in Arabic, Cyrillic and Chinese.

Their introduction has been warmly welcomed by ICANN’s CEO and President Rod Beckstrom who spoke enthusiastically about this at the ICANN meeting in Brussels last week, while also noting that the support for IDNs at events he has attended in Egypt and Russia had been fantastic.

To date ICANN has received 31 Fast Track requests for IDNs representing 19 languages. One of the first to be approved was the Cyrillic domain .РФ for the Russian Federation.

.РФ was well supported at a government level with both President Dimitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin both enthusiastic supporters. So it was no surprise that the IDN would be warmly welcomed by Russian people and businesses.

Currently the sunrise period for .РФ is underway with over 14,000 domain names registered by Russian businesses. It is expected that there will be over 50,000 domain names registered by the end of the sunrise period in mid-September.

Currently around ten per cent of Russian trademark holders have registered their domain to date. This uptake has been pleasantly surprising with Alexey Lesnikov, Director General of RU-CENTER, the leading .РФ registrar, telling DomainPulse during the Brussels ICANN meeting this has been in part due to the community consultation that included building awareness with registrars, internet users, government and other interested parties.

To boost this awareness RU-CENTER is also running seminars to inform trademark holders of IDNs through a public relations campaign that includes a series of seminars in Moscow and the regions.

“Cyrillic domain names will be widely used within Russia within five years, especially within emails, and during this time Russian internet users will become used to Cyrillic domains,” Lesnikov said during the Brussels ICANN meeting.

Prior to applying for the Cyrillic domain, RU-CENTER conducted opinion polling and of more than 10,000 internet users who participated, about 60 per cent said “yes” to the idea of a Cyrillic domain.

One of the goals of the introduction of IDNs, according to Lesnikov, is to broaden the appeal of domain names and encourage internet use. Indeed, one of the most pleasing things, and a guide to how successful the Cyrillic domain would be, was that his grandmother was impressed with the idea. Breaking down language barriers for Russian users is important as internet users not familiar with Latin characters found it difficult to understand domain names.

Among internet users familiar with Cyrillic languages, it is anticipated that the greater familiarity with the language will lead to lower levels of cybercrime such as phishing as the users will be more aware of the web addresses they are going to.

.РФ domain names will be available to the general public from Russia and anyone else throughout the world who wishes to register one from late 2010 for around US$20. However the sunrise and then landrush sunrise periods see those wanting to ensure they snare their preferred domain name paying a premium.

The first part of Sunrise – 25 November – 11 May – Russian-language trademark owners can register .РФ. Second part of Sunrise – 12 May – 14 July – Any trademark owners can register .РФ. The third period of Sunrise – 15 July – 15 September – Owners of names of goods’ and services’ origin, Mass-media, non-profit organisations and companies, which names are not officially registered as trademarks. Cost per registration during all parts of Sunrise is $40. Price during Landrush (starts from 16 September) is now being discussed.

Alexey said that at first there were a discussion that prices for Landrush should start from $300,000 but now the costs proposed are much lower. More information about Sunrise is available here: za-rf.ru/node/103. For those trademark holders taking part in the first part of the sunrise, it was costing 1,200 roubles (approximately $40), From of July for those eligible to apply for domains during the second part of the sunrise period, including organisations involved in mass media and not-for-profit organisations as well as company names not officially registered as trademarks in the Russian territory. The sunrise period officially ends on 16 September.

On other current topical domain name issues, IPv4 and IPv6 along with DNSSEC, Lesnikov said these are not overly important but both will be introduced in the medium term over coming years.

For more information on .РФ, check out the RU-CENTER website at za-rf.ru/en.