Singapore Registers 1,000 Chinese-language Domain Names

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Singapore has registered about 1,000 Chinese-language domain names since authorities began accepting name registrations last year, the government said.

The Singapore Network Information Center (SGNIC) began registering Chinese-language .sg domain names last November. Registrations were accepted in phases, with registrations for government organizations starting on Nov. 23, 2009. Beginning in January, SGNIC began accepting domain name registrations from trademark holders.

During the third phase, the general public was allowed to register domain names starting on March 25, but applicants were charged a "priority fee" of S$100 (US$72) for each domain name, with domain names sought by several applicants awarded to the highest bidder.

In all three phases, applicants could apply for a domain name made up of Chinese numbers or a name with just one Chinese character for a fee of S$500. (Unlike English, which uses an alphabet to spell words, every Chinese character has a specific meaning that can be used on its own, or combined with other characters, to make a Chinese word.)

The fourth and final phase began on June 10, with SGNIC accepting domain name applications on a first-come, first-served basis. The S$100 priority fee is no longer required, but applicants are no longer allowed to register domain names using Chinese numbers or names with just one Chinese character.

During the first three phases of the registration process, SGNIC registered a total of 1,024 Chinese-language .sg domain names, a spokeswoman for the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), which oversees SGNIC, said in an e-mail response to questions.

To put that number in perspective, a total of 116,439 .sg domain names were registered at the end of May, the spokeswoman said.

Based on that number, Chinese-language domain names represent just 0.9 percent of all registered .sg domain names.

When IDA announced the introduction of Chinese-language domain names last year, SGNIC said the effort was partly intended to help Singaporean businesses target the Chinese market.

Whether Chinese-language .sg domain names will have much impact remains to be seen. Chinese-language domain names can also be registered in China, but most Chinese Internet users and Web sites still use domain names based on Pinyin, a romanization system for Chinese characters, or alphanumeric combinations.

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