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Going dotty for domain workers

Published on Friday, 30 Nov 2012
HKIRC’s Jonathan Shea says country code domains are evolving.

What’s in a name? Juliet would say not a lot. But how about a domain name? The internet is certainly no sweet-smelling rose, however much we might like it to be.

Getting a domain name is like getting an address or a phone number so that others can locate or call you. You also need to indicate which country you are in, which is why we have country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) such “.hk”, the designated ccTLD for Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong Internet Registration Corporation (HKIRC) is an organisation endorsed by the Hong Kong government to undertake the administration of .hk domain names. It was established in 2001.

The organisation has about 25 staff of which about half are IT professionals. “They must be familiar with how the internet runs,” says Jonathan Shea, CEO of HKIRC. “They especially have to know about the functions of the domain-name system and TCP/IP, a communication protocol for the internet.”

The key role of HKIRC is to provide registration services of .hk domain names for the local community. As of 1 November 2012, the number of .hk domain name registrations was 239,740.

There are two types of .hk domain name. Specific .hk domain names include .com.hk, .org.hk, .net.hk, .edu.hk, .gov.hk and .idv.hk. Generic .hk domain names can be used for any company, organisation or individual, such as the Cathay Pacific site, cathaypacific.hk.

Shea says the benefits of a .hk domain name include having a 24-hour hotline service in Cantonese and English and receiving assistance in dispute-resolution matters associated with the administration or use of domain names. More importantly, .hk domain names help promote Hong Kong as an international centre for e-commerce.

In 2010, the use of Chinese characters for Hong Kong’s ccTLD was approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The first such domain name was activated in early 2011.

Shea says that as more people use Chinese characters during their internet activities, using Chinese characters for domain names will become more of a trend and will help connect cities in the Greater China region.

At the moment, there are 280 ccTLDs, but only 22 “generic” toplevel domains, such as the familiar .com, .net, or .org extensions.

For those who want to be creative with their domain names, new generic top-level domains have been introduced by ICANN. Some of the newer domains include .pro, .jobs and .museum.

ICANN is currently reviewing more than 2,000 other domainname extensions submitted by the public. They are expected to go live throughout next year after thorough examination.

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