The Internet finally learns how to write a Thai address

Dec 23 -- Recognition of the Thai language is finally coming to the Internetthanks to new software developed by ThaiURL.com Ltd.

Dec 23 -- Recognition of the Thai language is finally coming to the Internet thanks to new software developed by ThaiURL.com Ltd.

Its technology allows common web browsers to recognise web addresses written in Thai. According to company managing director Pipat Yodprudtikan, the birth of ThaiURL stemmed from questioning the prevalence of English.

Despite there being a lot of Thai web sites out there, Netscape and Internet Explorer browsers were unable to understand Thai web addresses when typed in the browser's address bar. "That was the challenge and inspired us to develop the ThaiURL program," Mr Pipat said, explaining that it allows web browsers to read and understand web site addresses written in Thai language.

The software is called ThaiURL. Users can download the software from the ThaiURL.com web site at www.thaiurl.com. ThaiURL.com is aiming to bring about several benefits, Mr Pipat said, including satisfying the demand for domain names and stimulating Internet use.

He said that the younger generation liked to register domain names using Thai-sounding names such as sanook.com, or jorjae.com. "The user sometimes gets confused on the spelling of Thai web sites, since one sound could spell several words, such as sabuy.com or sabai.com".

He added that for people with limited English language skills, the program would be of benefit. "Currently, there are some 10 million web sites registered worldwide. The ThaiURL program is an alternative to registering web sites in Thailand," said Mr Pipat.

The company's services include web address registration under the .com, .net, and .org domains in Thai. ThaiURL.com will also allow users with web pages hosted elsewhere to register a Thai domain, which will automatically link users to the original web site. This makes it easier for the Thai public to remember the web site while keeping it at its original location.

Charges to register web addresses with ThaiURL.com are 800 baht per year. Existing web site owners whose URLs are Thai but spelled in English may also register with ThaiURL.com.

The company will hold recognised URLs until January 15, 2000, after which they will be available to other customers. The company is also launching a special promotion during which users can register their domain names on a first-come, first-served basis between January 15 and February 15, 2000 free of charge.

Association of Thai Software Industry (ATSI) president Arporna Sribhibhadh commented that the ThaiURL.com program was innovative and an interesting one for investors. It was convenient for Thai users, he said, and encouraged new Internet users as well as the creation of local web sites. Mr Pipat said that ThaiURL.com was working on other new technology developments, including projects related to e-commerce and a portal site.

Meanwhile, the company will also co-operate with other Thai web sites through an "affiliate programme," which it plans to announce early next year.