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VeriSign tests other languages for domain names

Noting a spike in demand for Internet addresses in Asian languages, the gatekeeper of domain name registrations will soon accept Korean, Japanese and Chinese characters.

    Noting a spike in demand for Internet addresses in Asian languages, the gatekeeper of domain name registrations will soon accept Korean, Japanese and Chinese characters to the left of the dot-com.

    VeriSign, which operates the domain name registry where all Internet addresses for ".com," ".net" and ".org" are stored, is expanding its service by allowing characters other than Roman letters in the database.

    Earlier this year VeriSign, an online security business, bought domain name registrar Network Solutions (NSI), once the only place entrepreneurs could go to get an identity on the Net. As part of the acquisition, VeriSign also took control of NSI's massive database of names.

    Testing for the new Asian language domains begins in November and is open to all 65 accredited registrars, not only NSI.

    "This is a way of expanding the Internet's promise," said Brian O'Shaughnessy, spokesman for VeriSign's domain name registry. Now the "software only recognizes a Roman-based alphabet. So if you're Chinese you have to create something that makes no sense to you or use numbers. With this new system they can type their local language in the address bar."

    Explosive growth of Internet use in the Asia-Pacific region has forced VeriSign to take notice. In the past year, Asia-Pacific registrations through NSI jumped 78 percent, according to the company's research.

    "Even with the language barrier, the Asian community has been registering domain names in record numbers," the company said in a statement.

    According to NSI research, its customers in Seoul registered more domain names than any other city outside of the United States. Korea is said to have 10 million Internet users, while Japan has 21 million and China 16 million, reports indicate.

    VeriSign said it will eventually expand the service to allow other non-Roman-lettered languages.