ICANN meeting to focus on new top-level domains

Rolling out new generic top-level domains and adding non-English characters to the Internet are key agenda items at this week's ICANN meeting.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) kicked off its week-long 33rd International Public Meeting in Cairo on Sunday to discuss implementing new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) and the globally expanding the domain name system.

There are 1.5 billion Internet users in the world and only 21 gTLDs from which people can choose, said Paul Twomey, president and CEO of ICANN.

"We are currently facilitating the biggest expansion to the domain name system since its inception," he said.

In October, ICANN released a draft guidebook that provides information on applying for a gTLD, and the 1,000 delegates attending the meeting will be expected to give feedback on the draft. The draft is open for comments for the next 45 days.

"During this meeting, there will be further consultation with the Internet community so that all aspects of the draft gTLD policy are thoroughly discussed," Twomey said.

The Cairo meeting will also hold further progress towards the introduction of internationalized domain names (IDNs), which, when combined with new gTLDs, will create a range of new possibilities for Internet users around the world.

The IDN project seeks to introduce the use of non-Roman character languages on the Internet. In Africa, Amharic and Arabic are on top of the agenda to ensure that more people can access the Internet in their native languages.

Before the official opening of the meeting, Egypt's country code TLD manager formalized the country's relationship with ICANN. The process involved an exchange of letters between Twomey and Hossam Fahim and Nashwa Abdebaki, general manager and senior consultant, respectively, at the Egyptian Universities Network. This brings to 45 the number of countries that have entered into formal relationships with ICANN.

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