At a media briefing held at the Hilton Colombo Residencies, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) discussed the evolution of the Internet’s Domain Name System (DNS)and its potential implication for Sri Lanka.

ICANN is currently overseeing a radical change in the history of the Internet with its New Generic Top-level Domain (gTLD) Program. This is driving the largest expansion of the DNS, promoting choice, competition, and innovation for the benefit of consumers and businesses.

ICANN is also enhancing the usability of the Internet through the introduction of Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs). IDNs will enable the global community to use a domain name and access content in their native language or script.


Head table from left: Security, Stability and Resiliency Regional Manager
ICANN Champika Wijayatunga, Internationalized Domain Name (IDN) Programs Director ICANN Sarmad Hussain, Co-Chair of Sinhala Generation Panel Harsha Wijayawardhana and Program Director / Legal Advisor ICTA Jayantha Fernando

Sri Lanka currently has an Internet penetration rate of approximately 32 percent, which is below the average penetration of 46.7 percent in Asia. However, the rapid rise in mobile broadband subscriptions can change that. According to the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka, mobile broadband subscriptions have risen from just over 90,000 subscriptions in 2009, to over 4 million in June 2017.

“The DNS’ expansion will help provide for the growing Internet community in our region. In a time when everyone and everything is going digital, a website and domain name are essentials for every business, including people. We are seeing the Internet evolve as more people coming online can do so in their own languages,” said Champika Wijayatunga, ICANN’s Security, Stability and Resiliency Regional Manager.


Security, Stability, and Resiliency Regional Manager ICANN Champika Wijayatunga addressing the gathering

In Sri Lanka, where Sinhalese and Tamil are commonly spoken languages, the IDN program will enable non-English speaking Sri Lankans to come online using their native scripts.

One of the key pre-requisite is the formation of a Generation Panel (GP). Consisting of local experts from policy, technical and linguistic fields, the GP helps to determine rules to form valid top-level domains in the local script. The launch of the Sinhala GP today brings Sri Lankans one step closer to accessing the Internet’s domain name system using domain names in their scripts and languages.


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