January 26, 2001, 10:22 AM — The company in charge of maintaining the database of Internet domain names announced yesterday that it has begun a test of assigned IP addresses to non-English domain names.
VeriSign Global Registry Services (GRS), a Mountain View, Calif.-based unit of VeriSign Inc., said it has moved into the "resolution" portion of the test, in which it will assign actual IP addresses to more than 800,000 multilingual domain names that have been registered thus far. That eventually will make it possible for Internet users to start accessing Web sites that use multilingual URLs.
VeriSign GRS said the second and third phases of the resolution test process will first allow the Web sites to be brought up in a controlled environment, separate from the Web, and then to be tested directly on the Internet.
"All this will happen over the next six months," a spokesman for Verisign GRS said.
Verisign began testing the viability of using non-English characters in Web site addresses in November.
Verisign GRS, the registry service provider for .com, .net and .org domains, also said in a separate announcement that it will begin accepting registrations of domain names in Western European languages late next month. Prospective sites can register 25 domain name registrars already certified by VeriSign GRS to take part in the test.
Domain names in Southeast Asian languages and those used on the Indian subcontinent will be accepted in early March, and Middle Eastern languages will be accepted in late March.
The service is already accepting Chinese, Japanese and Korean characters.
While VeriSign GRS said it's working in cooperation with the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and other groups on how to best approach global standards for creating non-English domain names, David Maher, vice president of public policy for the Internet Society said VeriSign is creating a risk of duplicating Web addresses.
The Chinese government and other foreign countries are actively registering domain names, unaware of what VeriSign is doing, he said.
"[VeriSign's] idea of a test seems to be going ahead and selling domain names to as many people as it can," said Maher, whose Internet Society is the incorporated business arm of the IETF, which is a volunteer group of industry experts. "Admittedly, there are some from VeriSign working with IETF, but that doesn't mean we at the Internet Society approve of what they're doing, because we don't."