ICANN approved a change to the URL domain name scheme on Friday that allows for the use of non-Latin characters. The change goes into effect on November 16, and domain names using characters from other alphabets are expected to be online shortly after.
ICANN is the organization that's responsible for managing identifying codes on the Internet including domains and country codes.
"The coming introduction of non-Latin characters represents the biggest technical change to the Internet since it was created four decades ago," commented ICANN chairman Peter Dengate Thrush. "Right now Internet address endings are limited to Latin characters -- A to Z. But the Fast Track Process is the first step in bringing the 100,000 characters of the languages of the world online for domain names."
Currently, all URLS end with domains comprised of Latin characters such as .com, .org and .net, requiring everyone to use Latin characters in Web addresses even if their native language uses different characters. The change is expected to help make URLs easier to work with for people that don't use the letters domain names are currently limited to.
"The first countries that participate will not only be providing valuable information of the operation of IDNs in the domain name system, they are also going to help to bring the first of billions more people online -- people who never use Roman characters in their daily lives," said ICANN President and CEO Rod Beckstrom.
ICANN will be watching the domain name changes closely to see what impact it has on the rest of the Internet.