[UA-discuss] UA102 - Comments Open

Don Hollander don.hollander at icann.org
Fri May 5 06:43:16 UTC 2017

The UASG has plans to produce a number of short editorial pieces that can be published in a variety of forums.


We have already produce what we call UA101 – an Introduction to Universal Acceptance – and have had it published in a number of forums (and continue to pursue others)


The next on our list is what we call UA102 – an Introduction to EAI.


It’s pasted below and available for comments and edits at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1vK5BwVvtDdsCBmTwe4gDiMt1EVQqWQdnzUa-u0y0NGA/edit?usp=sharing


I would welcome your expertise and thoughts, particularly on how we can trim it a bit, by the 14th of May.






Bridging the Digital Language Divide – Is Your Email Truly Ready for the Global Market? 


Email connects people globally with a click of a button, but it’s not as universal as you might imagine. Until recently, people and organizations have had to use non-accented Latin characters (A – Z, 0-9) for their email addresses, even if they only communicate in their local language such as Russian, Hindi, Thai or Chinese. While English has long been thought to be the de facto language of the Internet, most of the world’s population does not use a Latin alphabet (and certainly not an ASCII alphabet) in their daily lives, and the next billion Internet users are even less likely to do so. In order to really make email - and everything available through email, such as social networks, e-commerce, etc. - something that is global and accessible to all, people need to be able to use their native scripts for their email identities.


The good news is that’s now possible. Email address internationalization (EAI) is the set of protocols that allows email addresses (mailbox at domainname) that use scripts other than non-accented Latin characters, such as günter at büncher.berlin or ไทย@อรุณวัฒนามงคล.ไทย, to function within the traditional email environment. However, for EAI to work, email software and services need to make specific changes to support it.


There’s a growing awareness of the issue, with some progress toward a resolution as a number of companies making their systems EAI-ready. Examples include:


·         Gmail, Microsoft Outlook 2016 for Windows, and others are now able to send to and receive from EAI addresses.

·         Coremail, XgenPlus, Throughwave and others are able to host EAI addresses.

·         PostFix and Exim are widely used MTAs that are EAI Ready.


But more needs to be done. Gmail, Microsoft and others are working on adding hosting to for EAI addresses to provide a full EAI solution and there are more email software and service providers that either are, or will be, working on providing full support for EAI.


To help companies, organizations and governments with EAI, the Universal Acceptance Steering Group[1] (UASG – www.uasg.tech) has developed a number of resources. The purpose of their efforts is to help ensure a consistent and positive experience for Internet users globally.


Resources include the “Quick Guide to Email Address Internationalization (EAI)” that gives practical advice for email service providers and email software developers to consider. UASG has also catalogued IETF RFCs  such as “EAI including Overview and Framework for Internationalized Email,” SMTP Extension for Internationalized Email and IMAP Support for UTF-8. A full list of RFCs can be found in uasg.tech/documents (“Relevant RFCs” UASG 006).


This is now the time for IT operations to get ready to engage with EAI.  To do so, you’ll need to follow a few simple steps:
Make sure that applications that include an email address are able to support UTF-8 character sets.
Make sure that internal mail system is EAI ready – and if it’s a package and you’re not sure, ask email software or service provider when they expect to be EAI ready.
Test systems. The UASG offers a number of live use cases that can be used for testing.  They’re outlined in “Use Cases for UA Readiness Evaluation.” .

With market researchers estimating that nearly half of the worldwide population will be using email by year-end 2020[2], we encourage you to get involved in making sure your email systems are ready for the next billion Internet users.


Individual organizations should start looking at their own email systems to see if they are EAI ready and, if they’re not, to talk to their suppliers and ask for their EAI Roadmap.












[1] UASG is supported by Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and is a community-led initiative working on creating awareness and identifying and resolving problems associated with EAI and the broader issue of Universal Acceptance (UA) of domain names and email addresses.

[2] http://www.radicati.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Email_Statistics_Report_2016-2020_Executive_Summary.pdf

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