SINGAPORE--Starting Nov. 23, businesses and consumers in the country will be able to register URL or Web addresses based on Chinese characters.
In a statement released Tuesday, national domain registrar Singapore Network Information Centre (SGNIC) said it will accept registration for Chinese domain names across second-level and third-level addresses ending with ".sg", ".com.sg", ".org.sg", ".edu.sg" and ".gov.sg".
Registration will be rolled out in phases, starting with government agencies on Nov. 23. Trademark holders and others will have to wait until January 2010 before they can register URL addresses based on Chinese characters.
Chinese domain names will provide greater user choice and add to the range of domain names currently available here, Lim Choon Sai, SGNIC's general manager, said in the press release.
"We believe this is timely given the growing interest, especially among businesses here, to reach the Chinese markets, which may feel more comfortable using their own language," said Lim.
According to SGNIC, countries such as China, Japan and Korea, where English is not the primary language, already offer domain names in their native language.
SGNIC will begin offering Chinese domain name registrations in three phases, charging a premium for those that register in the initial stages. After the first phase launches on Nov. 23, targeted for government agencies, the second phase will commence Jan. 7, 2010, and will be open for trademark holders that have registered their trademarks with the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore. The third phase will begin Mar. 25 next year and applicants will have to fork out a priority fee.
The general public launch for Chinese domain names will begin from Jun. 10, 2010, according to SGNIC, which noted it will monitor market demand and developments to determine whether it domain names in other languages should be offered.
SGNIC in 2005 had run trials on multilingual domain names.