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Nic.at Celebrates 10 Years of .AT IDNs

On 31 March, the Austrian registry, nic.at, celebrated ten years of .at internationalised domain names. In the 12 months since .at IDNs were introduced they total 2.4 percent, or 29,729, of the 1.23 million .at domains under management.”The Austrian domain market is continuously developing”, said Richard Wein, CEO of nic.at. “The implementation of IDN domains was one among many developments and innovations in the .at zone – and there is still space for growth.” And there is plenty of room to grow.The first .at IDN was börse.at (“exchange” in English). Today the domain has no connection to the Vienna Stock Exchange.”This example shows that umlaut terms in the .at zone have a high recognition and brand value”, said Wein. Roughly 1.5 % of German words contain umlaut marks. “Therefore 30,000 IDNs in the .at zone is quite a lot”, Wein continued.IDNs can not only be found in country code domain names such as .at, but also in generic Top Level Domains. Of the 1,930 gTLDs applied for, 116 contain arabic, asian or hebrew characters. Examples are .بازار for “Bazar” or the chinese .大众汽车 for Volkswagen. Some TLDs already exist in various local languages like the Cyrillic script .срб for Serbia or .இந்தியா for India.”This increases the identification of users in the internet tremendously. The potential of IDNs is by far not exhausted – the demand increases appreciably”, explains Wein.And while there lies a vast potential in IDNs, there are also problems with their implementation.”In order to fully max it out, it is necessary that email programmes start supporting IDNs and make müller@müller.at possible,” explains Wein. At the moment umlaut characters positioned before the @-sign are not supported by Mail Clients. This is why a lot of Austrian companies have their company or product name with ä, ö or ü registered, but they communicate only with their Latin equivalents ae, oe, ue. “One cannot predict when email providers will update their programmes. “The technical knowhow already exists,” said Wein.