About the industry
The Domain Name System (DNS)
What is the DNS and how does it work?
The domain name system (DNS) is mostly known for associating names with IP addresses, as humans can more easily remember names than numbers. Also software and hardware on the internet name things, including web browsers, e-mail applications, gaming consoles, or video streaming devices. The DNS is flexible and not linked to a device or location, i.e. a domain name stays the same even though the underlying IP address might change. The DNS has a lot of built-in redundancy to ensure reliability: if a server is not reachable, it can rely on multiple others that store the same data.
For applications to work and/or communicate with each other via Internet protocols, domain names need to be translated into IP addresses. This process is set off by a query, i.e. when you want to send an e-mail or wish to access a website.
The following video explains it a bit more in detail:
A country code top-level domain (ccTLD) registry operator manages or administers a country-specific top-level domain, such as .si or .eu. Not one ccTLD registry operator is like another. In Europe, registry operators vary considerably in business model, ownership, size and, correspondingly, relations with their governments. Most “ccTLDs” are not-for-profit: they are foundations, cooperatives, universities, research institutes or part of their government. They are funded through the proceeds from registrations that are then reinvested into maintaining their functioning, educational campaigns, research, etc. They are operated by as many as 100 or as few as 1 person. By nature, ccTLDs have strong links with their local internet communities (LIC), including the government. ccTLDs are mainly governed by national law, mostly like any other organisation of their kind. Only in few cases are there ccTLD-specific laws. Also EU policies and international standards play an important role.
What are IDNs?
Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) are domain names that include characters from different scripts such as Arabic, Chinese, Cyrillic, or the Latin alphabet characters with diacritics, such as French. These non-ASCII characters can appear at the second or third levels of the domain name (e.g., www.monidéeàmoi.be) thanks to the 2008 Internationalizing Domain Names in Applications (IDNA2008) protocol, but the first non-ASCII top-level domains (TLDs) were only introduced to the root zone in 2010.
The first IDN TLDs were country code top-level domains (ccTLDs). In June 2010, the IDN ccTLDs لسعودية., مصر. and امارات. (Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates), as well as .рф (Russia) were successfully implemented, closely followed by .中国 and .中國 (China), .香港 (Hong Kong), as well as .台灣 and .台湾 (Taiwan). To date, more than 38 IDN ccTLDs have been delegated worldwide and more than 1M IDNs below top level have been registered in the European region (see up-to-date list here).
What are new gTLDs?
There are two main categories of Top Level Domains: country code top level domains (e.g. .be, .fr, .es) and generic top level domains (e.g. .com, .info, .net).
In order to improve competition and consumer choice, ICANN has decided in 2011 to open up the gTLD space. The additional top level domains are called "new gTLDs".
Small scale additions to the namespace have been made since 2000. In contrast, ICANN now decided to authorise any new gTLD which meets the published criteria. The window for applications closed at the end of April 2012.
The complete list of TLDs available in the root zone database is available on the IANA website.
What is IPv6?
News articles, presentations, and government documents, are all making an urgent appeal to adapt the Internet so as to cope with its growth. “The Internet is running out of IP addresses and if no immediate action is taken now, further growth will be impossible”, they claim.
This alarming message must be taken seriously. But, there is no need to panic, the Internet is not at risk and will not stop working. There is no bug or threat that has to be fixed; however, changes are needed to guarantee the continuous steep growth of the global network.
The current and much widely used version of the Internet Protocol IPv4 needs to be replaced by the IPv6 protocol. IPv6 addresses are longer so that more unique combinations can be made. An IPv6 address is represented by 8 groups of hexadecimal values separated by colons. A typical example of an IPv6 address is 2a02:d08:1001:108:1880:9309:7197:1.
What is ICANN?
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a California based, not-for-profit organization that brings together individuals, industry, non-commercial and government representatives to discuss, debate and develop policies about the technical coordination of the internet’s domain name system. While ICANN’s scope is limited, its importance cannot be overestimated. While policies developed at ICANN affect mainly generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs), some that are of a technical coordinating nature have an impact on country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs). A perfect example of the latter is the framework described by ICANN that sets out the rules for the operation of internationalised domain names (such as top level domain names in Cyrillic and Greek). In addition to its policy role for technical coordination of the internet’s domain name system, ICANN is also the home of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). More information can be found at https://www.icann.org
What is IANA?
The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority is the organisation responsible for maintaining the registries of the internet’s unique identifiers. These consist of three categories: the root zone management for domain names, maintaining the registries with protocol parameters and internet numbers (such as IP addresses and autonomous system numbers). Until now, the US department of commerce, more in particular the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), oversees the IANA operations based on a contract with ICANN. In March 2014, the NTIA announced that it intends to transition this stewardship to the global internet community. Since then, the IETF, IAB, RIRs and the stakeholders in the domain name industry have worked hard on a proposal that meets the criteria the NTIA had put in place. This process is known as the IANA stewardship transition process. More information can be found at https://www.iana.org.