Software Updates for Net Domains Could Spur $9.8B in Revenue

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By Michaela Ross

Updating website software to recognize new internet domain names could increase online revenues by $9.8 billion per year, according to a study by the Universal Acceptance Steering Group released April 11.

The internet infrastructure advocacy group, whose members include companies such as Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp., is trying to spur websites to update their systems to recognize new domain names introduced by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. ICANN is the nonprofit that manages top-level domain names such .com and .net.

ICANN’s new domain names and the email addresses associated with them are not always recognized by website software, according to the UASG, which ICANN partly funds. That can stymie e-commerce revenue. For example, when a consumer with an email address that uses a new domain name must enter it to make an online purchase, some websites reject the address, the group said.

ICANN has added new generic top-level domain names (gTLDs), such as .club and .blog, as well as Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) in non-Latin script, such as Chinese or Arabic, in efforts to encourage more global internet use. A separate study commissioned by ICANN found that web browsers accepted new top-level domain names 96 percent of the time, while internationalized domain names were accepted 80 percent of the time.

The number of top-level domains has grown from 22 in 2012 to more than 1,200 in 2016, according to UASG data. Originally, all domain names were in Latin characters used in English.

The UASG is calling on commercial websites to update software to handle new domain names, in a process called Universal Acceptance.

“Universal Acceptance unlocks a significant economic opportunity and provides a gateway to the next billion Internet users by ensuring a consistent and positive experience for Internet users globally,” UASG chair Ram Mohan said in a statement.

More than 25 million domain names are currently registered, including 2.6 million internationalized domain names, the UASG said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michaela Ross in Washington at mross@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at kperine@bna.com

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