What took them so long? Cynics suggest that because ICANN (the company responsible for the management of top-level domains) is an American organisation, there has been an inherent bias toward the use of the Western character set online. There has even been the suggestion that ICANN's US-centric tight control of domain names could amount to restriction of free trade. A large part of the delay is undoubtedly down to the technical complexity of the change; instead of being limited to 37 characters, URLs will now be able to use over 100,000. When you're responsible for the architecture of the net it's sensible to ensure any changes don't break it. New internet landscape If the web still seems an English-dominated, Western environment, it's probably because those are the only parts us English-speaking Westerners are looking at. It's a bit like a Mongolian yak herder assuming that everyone else on the planet has a herd of yaks. I mean, why wouldn't they? English is still the international language or 'lingua franca', but today most of the growth in internet use is happening in non-English speaking countries.