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Next stop for Khmer script: domain names

Internet domain names in Khmer script could become a reality in the next year, according to Seng Sopheap, president of the National Institute of Posts, Telecommunications and ICT.

Over the past 10 months, the institute’s academics, along with officials from the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications and technical experts, have been preparing a set of standard linguistic rules for Khmer domain names.

On Monday, they submitted a final version to the Los Angeles-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which manages global domain name systems.

“Until now, domain names could only be in ASCII,” Sopheap said, referring to the characters on most keyboards. “It’s not good, because people don’t know Latin characters.”

He said that even though Khmer content is available online, web addresses must be typed with Latin letters, which keeps many off the internet. “Cambodian farmers never learned A-B-C-D,” he said, adding that Khmer domain names would also help businesses connect with consumers.

ICANN will review the document and have a follow-up meeting with the institute next month. If there are no technical issues, ICANN will begin working to implement the ability to register domains in Khmer.

In 2014, ICANN teamed with various national panels to develop top-level domains, including those ending in “.com” or “.edu”, in such non-Latin-script languages as Khmer, Arabic and Chinese.

Chey Tech, an internet analyst, said that implementing Khmer characters in top-level domains is a challenging problem as Khmer is not a widespread language and some minority groups have different ways of writing the same words.

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