Internet set for change with non-English addresses

SEOUL: The Internet is set to undergo one of the biggest changes in its four-decade history with the expected approval this week of international domain names – or addresses – that can be written in languages other than English, an official said Monday.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN – the non-profit group that oversees domain names – is holding a meeting this week in Seoul.

Domain names are the monikers behind every website, e-mail address and Twitter post, such as “.com” and other suffixes.

One of the key issues to be taken up by ICANN’s board at this week’s gathering is whether to allow for the first time entire Internet addresses to be in scripts that are not based on Latin letters. That could potentially open up the Web to more people around the world as addresses could be in characters as diverse as Arabic, Korean, Japanese, Greek, Hindi and Cyrillic – in which Russian is written.

“This is the biggest change technically to the Internet since it was invented 40 years ago,” Peter Dengate Thrush, chairman of the ICANN board, told reporters, calling it a “fantastically complicated technical feature.” He said he expects the board to grant approval on Friday, the conference’s final day.

The Internet’s roots are traced to experiments at a US university in 1969 but it wasn’t until the early 1990s that its use began expanding beyond academia and research institutions to the general public.

Rod Beckstrom, ICANN’s new president and CEO, said that if the change is approved, ICANN would begin accepting applications for non-English domain names and that the first entries into the system would likely come sometime in mid-2010.

Enabling the change, Thrush said, is the creation of a translation system that allows multiple scripts to be converted to the right address.

“We’re confident that it works because we’ve been testing it now for a couple of years,” he said. “And so we’re really ready to start rolling it out.”

Of the 1.6 billion Internet users worldwide, Beckstrom – a former chief of US cybersecurity – said that more than half use languages that have scripts based on alphabets other than Latin.

“So this change is very much necessary for not only half the world’s Internet users today, but more than half of probably the future users as the use of the Internet continues to spread,” he said.

Beckstrom, in earlier remarks to conference participants, recalled that many people had said just three to five years ago that using non-Latin scripts for domain names would be impossible to achieve.

“But you the community and the policy groups and staff and board have worked through them, which is absolutely incredible,” he said.

ICANN is headquartered in the United States in Marina del Rey, California. – AP

Source TheStar

High-speed broadband to be deployed by June

KUALA LUMPUR: The country’s high-speed broadband is expected to be deployed by the middle of next year, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.

Deputy Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum said the system is being tested at four exchanges in the Klang Valley — Bangsar, Shah Alam, Subang Jaya and Taman Tun Dr Ismail.

Telekom Malaysia, he said, has also started physical work at 22 other exchanges nationwide.

“The network access will provide highspeed broadband via 1.3 million premises in the Klang Valley, Iskandar Malaysia, and in several economic and industrial zones in Malaysia,” he said in reply to Saifuddin Nasution Ismail (PKR — Machang) during question time.

“The comprehensive testing is to be completed this year and the service will come on stream by the middle of next year.”

Joseph said that apart from last-mile access, the joint venture project between the Government and Telekom Malaysia would also cover the core network and the international gateway which is currently under preparation.

“Most of the domestic core network has been installed and is being tested. As for the international gateway, the existing AmericanAsia Gateway undersea cable system is being enhanced and work is expected to be completed by year end,” he said. — Bernama

Govt directs SKMM to investigate high cost of IT services


CYBERJAYA: The Government has directed the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (SKMM) to study the reasons behind the high cost of providing Information Technology (IT) services in the country.

Information, Communications, Culture and Arts Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said there were numerous complaints on how expensive it was to obtain IT services here, while the quality — particularly connection availability and speed — was not up to expectation.

“The Government would also like to know why the cost for IT services is high in Malaysia. Consumers’ main grouse is that they are charged more compared with users in other countries but the quality of service is not up to mark.

“We want to know how it (the cost) can be brought down and at the same time improve on the quality,” he told reporters after a briefing at the SKMM on Wednesday.

Rais said SKMM must also see to it that providers deliver what they promised consumers, adding that if a provider promised Internet surfing speeds of 10Mb (megabits) per second, the public should not be experiencing a “slow as tortoise service at one or two megabits.”

He said providers whose services failed to meet expectation must be dealt with, adding this was where the Commission, as the enforcement authority, should play its role to ensure the public was not shortchaged,

Rais said efforts must be taken to close the digital gap between rural and urban areas, adding that fixed telephone line providers must expedite the laying of optical fibre cables so that people in districts and kampungs (villages) could also enjoy Internet service.

On another matter, the minister said 11 cases related to violations committed in cyberspace had been to court, adding the nature of cases included sending lewd and vulgar SMSes and e-mail, and comments insulting the Sultan of Perak.

He said there were a “good number of cases” that had been brought to the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the Commission would leave it to the A-G to decide whether or not prosecute the offenders.

Rais reminded the Commission of its responsibility to ensure that all cyberspace users in the country follow laws and regulations, adding it should not hesitate to take action against violators.

“I must however stress that we are not practising censorship but there are laws that need to be respected and adhered to.

“The public’s interest and safety, as well as the country’s security, need to be looked after and that is why the Commission must do its job to see to it that users follow guidelines,” he said.

Source : TheStar