The Internet took a big step forward today with an announcement from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names & Numbers that they would soon start accepting non-latin domain names. (via CNET) Currently all IP addresses and other web extensions must be written using latin characters. This isn't an issue for most of the developed world, but it's something that will need to change before the Internet can become truly international.
Starting November 16th, ICANN will start taking applications from various nations for new top-level domain names based on their country's character set. These Internationalized Domain Names, or IDNs, will only apply to local country codes at first. ICANN hopes to extend them to top-level domains like .com and .net sometime in the near future.
This won't be a quick or easy process. There is a very good reason ICANN didn't implement IDNs earlier; it's really, really hard to do. ICANN has already declared IDNs to be the biggest single technical change to the Internet in its 40 year life. No matter how difficult it is, a change like this is definitely worth the effort though. IDNs will make the Internet much more accessible to billions of people. The implications are staggering.