Colombo, Sri Lanka… The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) today discussed the evolution of the Internet's Domain Name System (DNS) and its potential implication for Sri Lanka.
ICANN is currently overseeing one of the biggest changes ever in the history of the Internet with its New Generic Top-level Domain (gTLD) Program. This is driving the largest expansion of the DNS, promoting choice, competition and innovation for the benefit of consumers and businesses.
ICANN is also enhancing the usability of the Internet through the introduction of Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs). IDNs will enable the global community to use a domain name and access content in their native language or script.
Sri Lanka currently has an Internet penetration rate of approximately 32 percent, which is below the average penetration of 46.7 percent in Asia1. However, rapid rise in mobile broadband subscriptions can change that. According to the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka, mobile broadband subscriptions have risen from just over 90,000 subscriptions in 2009, to over 4 million in June 2017.
"The DNS' expansion will help provide for the growing Internet community in our region. In a time when everyone and everything is going digital, a website and domain name are essentials for every business, including people. We are seeing the Internet evolve as more people coming online can do so in their own languages," said Champika Wijayatunga, ICANN's Security, Stability and Resiliency Regional Manager. Wijayatunga is also responsible for the engagement and outreach in the South Asia markets, including Sri Lanka.
In Sri Lanka, where Sinhalese and Tamil are commonly spoken languages, the IDN program will enable non-English speaking Sri Lankans to come online using their native scripts.
One of the key pre-requisite is the formation of a Generation Panel (GP). Consisting of local experts from policy, technical and linguistic fields, the GP helps to determine rules to form valid top-level domains in the local script. The launch of the Sinhala GP today brings Sri Lankans one step closer to accessing the Internet's domain name system using domain names in their scripts and languages.
Jayantha Fernando, Program Director / Legal Advisor of the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA), was also present at the media briefing.
He said, "The Internet has become an integral part of our everyday life, and has created the opportunity for social and economic growth, resulting in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector becoming the 5th largest revenue earner for the Sri Lankan economy. The Sri Lankan government recognizes the importance of the Internet, and is supportive of an open, interoperable and secure Internet for all our citizens. It is in this context that we support this initiative and we hope that through this, more Sri Lankans can come online to enjoy the benefits of the Internet."
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ICANN's mission is to help ensure a stable, secure and unified global Internet. To reach another person on the Internet, you have to type an address into your computer - a name or a number. That address has to be unique so computers know where to find each other. ICANN helps coordinate and support these unique identifiers across the world. ICANN was formed in 1998 as a not-for-profit public-benefit corporation and a community with participants from all over the world.