December 3, 2008

New Internet Phone Book Domain

Starting December 3, companies will be able to buy addresses associated with a new web domain called (.tel).

The new domain is intended to act as a universal contact point rather than as a hook on which to hang websites. The idea is for owners of .tel domains to be encouraged to populate it with details about how they can be contacted.

The domain will work on the web and with mobile phones such as the Apple iPhone and Blackberry.

"All other top level domains like .com use the net's domain name system in the same way," said Kash Mahdavi, head of Telnic, which runs the .tel registry. "They all store IP address and they are all about websites."

He said .tel was designed to act as a repository for all of a company or individual's contact details. Mahdavi said a .tel domain could feature phone numbers, e-mail addresses, GPS data or buttons that kick off a Skype call.

It has some similarities to the Enum projects that aim to bind phone numbers and e-mail addresses into a unified contact system, Mahdavi said.

"The flaw with Enum was that it demanded people be on the web. By contrast, .tel will work with many different devices such as smart phones," Mahdayi clarified.

He said that owners of .tel domains would be able to manage their contact details via a simple dashboard and surrender as much or as little information as they desire.

Mahdayi added that .tel domains have a "friending mechanism" that will grant close friends access to private areas that give more ways for a person to be contacted.

"It will become their place on the cloud."

Access to the domain is being granted in three phases. The first begins on December 3 and is the "sunrise" phase for trademark owners to get domains related to their brands.

February 3, 2009 marks the beginning of the second phase, considered the "landrush" phase open to anyone, though domains will be on sale at a premium.

The final general availability phase starts on March 24, 2009 when the domain will be open to all comers.

"A number of new domains will go online when a new process for allocating them rolls out next year," said Phil Kingsland, director of communications for Nominet, the firm that manages the .uk domain.

Kingsland said businesses would need to be aware of the potential uses of .tel and how it can work for them.

"They should have a clear and robust domain name strategy in place, so that when new top-level domains such as these come onto the market, they are ready for them."

Mahdavi would not say what the final price for a .tel domain would be, but he said it would be in line with that charged for other domains.


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