Plans to allow non-Latin characters to be used in web addresses have been approved by the internet regulator.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) has voted at its annual meeting in Seoul to allow characters such as Arabic and Chinese to be used in domain names, something that could create a new range of opportunities for internet marketing consultants.
The change has been billed as the biggest change to the internet since it was established 40 years ago and the first domain names could be in use by as early as next year.
"Right now, internet address endings are limited to Latin characters - a to z," explained chairman of Icann Peter Dengate Thrush.
He added that this new move - known as the Fast Track Process - is "the first step in bringing the 100,000 characters of the languages of the world online for domain names."
President and chief executive officer of the body Rod Beckstrom hailed the announcement, describing it as "historic".
Icann, which is a not-for-profit public-benefit corporation, was formed in 1998 and aims to keep the web "secure, stable and interoperable".