Raqueeb Hassan: If it’s in the Bangladesh it’s gotta be .bd!

It must have been a week while I was attending one of the briefing sessions after the ministerial team visited “The Internet Governance Forum (IGF)” as held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

What was it for Bangladesh being in IGF, the Internet governance lobbying ground?

The team requested ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom on the inclusion of Bangla script compatible domain names as Egypt and Russia has sent similar proposals for their own IDNs.

By the way, why do we need IDN?

This Internationalized Domain Name (IDN) has been talked at length in this IGF. For last couple of years, these IDNs have become a hot topic in the field of Internet governance. As the number of non-English speakers [non Latin-based script] on the Internet grows exponentially, the limitations of the Domain Name System [DNS] have become evident to many.

It has also been said that over half the Internet users around the world don’t use a Latin-based script as their native language. It might sound great when ICANN will allow this floodgate to expand the global reach of the Internet by introducing the top-level domains in non-Latin character sets. It will help over half the world’s population who uses alphabets other than Latin, to let them read and write domain names and email addresses in their native languages. But, one thing I know for sure, search is getting hard in coming days.

It is true that the genuine community voice of the local populations in their own new idnGTLDs can be given a chance to be heard. But, then – in case of Bangladesh, adopting Bengali domain might lead us to the island syndrome where we may not be found by the international communities. It is fantastic solution for localized content, and are we there yet? Some has concerns as we need to avoid restricting new idnGTLDs to governments, many of which are often repressive or takes months to process, and we must also avoid handing the market to the Internet incumbents.

What is there for us and why isn’t everyone’s interested for IDN?

I’m not disapproving it, but are we done yet, with the keyboards war? Well, there is a keyword called “priority” before we proceed with this IDN thing. Yes, leapfrogging is great idea but sometimes shortcuts lead to nowhere.

And, under ICANN’s current plan, the only IDN domains are allowed are in country-code domains controlled by governments, like Bangladesh’s .bd, China’s .cn, and India’s .in. Here comes the moment of truth, who is administering the .bd domain?

The UAE telecom regulator [TRA] is promoting its fierce campaign for the local domain .ae [I would be surprised if you can’t find couple of promotional ads in middle eastern telecom magazines and sites] by saying …

If it’s in the UAE it’s gotta be .ae!

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has also re-delegated the UAE ENUM space (971) to TRA, which in turn delegated it to aeDA [TRA’s initiative] to manage the country top level domain [.ae ccTLD] from both administrative and technical perspectives in compliance with international best practices. According to TRA, they are aiming to attract around 200,000 registrants by 2010!

The current .bd domain administrator has acute shortage of manpower and the regulatory body has the domain administration authority in the amended act. As always, blame it on the predecessors; but this is an extra job when you don’t have proper organogram for it.

If we talk about priorities, what should be done next?

Licensing the .bd domain administration to an able body or to prepare the proposal for Bangla IDN?

Please have a look at the preparation phase of IDN ccTLD Fast Track Process, welcome to the real world.

Politically, “both” would sound perfect even if I subscribe to a different school of thought!  Please be advised that it is all about empowerment of local communities doing local businesses. It is mostly about business friendly policies not only Bangla script that matters.

And, please, please fix the keyboard layout!

Happy Eid-Ul-Azha!

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