The Internet is set to undergo one of the biggest changes in its 40-year history with the expected approval this week of a new, multilingual Internet address system.
The international group that regulates the Internet says it is likely to authorize the use of script from languages such as Arabic, Korean and Japanese for an entire Internet address for the first time.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, currently allows the use of non-Latin characters for only part of a Web site's address.
ICANN's full board is expected to approve the change on Friday, at the end of a week-long meeting in the South Korean capital, Seoul.
ICANN president Rod Beckstrom says the change will make the Internet more accessible to people whose languages are not written with Latin-based script. He says these people account for more than half of the world's estimated 1.6 billion Internet users.
ICANN board chairman Peter Dengate Thrush says the new, multilingual address system would represent the biggest change to the Internet technically since it was invented 40 years ago. The Internet's roots are traced to experiments at a U.S. university in 1969.
Beckstrom says that if the change is approved, the first Web sites with full addresses in non-Latin characters likely would appear in the middle of 2010.
ICANN is a non-profit organization based in the western U.S. city of Marina del Ray, California.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.