Afilias, a global provider of domain name registry services, announced the launch of .INFO, the first internationalized domain name solution on Thursday. The Dusseldorf-based company will open the registration of .INFO names using the German script umlaut characters: "ä," "ü," and "ö" by the end of the year. "This is an important step in the evolution of the Internet as a true global medium for communication,” said Philipp Grabensee, Chairman of Afilias' Board of Directors. The umlaut has the effect of adding an "e" after the vowels a, o and u. The letter combinations "ae," "oe" and "ue" are generally substituted for "ä," "ö" and "ü" in e-mail and other forms of communication where umlauts are not available. .INFO will make thousands of words in the German language that use umlauts available for domain names, words which have previously been unable to be registered as Web sites or used in e-mail.