Non-English domain names approaching

The Internet for the non-western world could be set for a major upheaval next week as ICANN - the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers - meets in Seoul to discuss the possibility of allowing non-Latin characters to be used in web addresses.

The non-profit organization, which oversees the domain name system that underpins the Web, is expected to approve the move, which would allow web addresses in Arabic, Korean, Japanese, Greek, Hindi and Cyrillic, as well as a whole host of other scripts. 

"This is the biggest change technically to the internet since it was invented 40 years ago", said Dengate Thrush, chairman of the ICANN board. If the proposal is approved, then the organization would begin accepting applications for domains early in 2010, with the first websites coming online later in the year.

Thrush added: "We're confident that it works because we've been testing it now for a couple of years," he said. "And so we're really ready to start rolling it out".