The genius of the Internet's Domain Name System (DNS) is that it provides a user-friendly word-based front end for a complex numeric system of identifying networks and devices. Finding information about any sizeable business is intuitive; we've all internalized the logic of 'www.businessname.com.'
ICANN the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the organization that administers the DNS has just taken a step toward extending this genius to Internet based communication by approving .Tel, a new TLD or top-level domain (like .Com or .Gov).
The minutes of ICANN's recent meeting at which the approval of .Tel was voted defines the new name space this way:
"The .Tel is a text-based naming and navigation sTLD [definition] that addresses the unique needs of the fixed-line and wireless Internet-Communications namespace. This namespace covers any form of intercommunications activity (voice, combined voice/data, or messaging) between individuals and/or businesses, which is dependent, in part or whole, on the Internet as the means of transport."
The .Tel will be administered by TelName, an organization created by the sponsoring agency (proposers of the .Tel project), London-based Telnic, Ltd.
Telnic CEO, Khashayar Mahdavi said "The days of needing to remember several phone numbers, numerous VoIP or instant message identities and other points of contact for our social and professional networks are over. By leveraging DNS technology, the .Tel domain will allow anyone to publish and control, in real time, how they can be reached."
Indeed, this is one way in which the .Tel is envisioned to function.
Again from the ICANN minutes:
"Individuals could use their name as a personal "brand" or a universal identity accessible from any Internet-enabled communications device to publish their contact information or other personal data. For example, Adam Smith could develop a personal mini-website that provides general information about himself including his contact information, such as phone numbers, and email addresses. Adam would be able to update and manage this data at will, and Adam's friends, when trying to reach him, could simply check adamsmith.tel to find his most current contact information and connect the call or send a text message."
The model for business usage could be somewhat different, with a domain name like bigcorp.tel leading visitors to a navigation system for customer inquiries, customer service, or any other communications activity.
According to ICANN, the .Tel domain will do the following (among other things):
- Deliver an easy to use and easy to remember intuitive letters/words based solution, where numbering is restricted.
- Provide a text-based naming structure that will bridge the segmentation of all Internet-Communications services and related content.
- Create a catalyst and an environment for the community to freely innovate and realize new applications and value-added services.
- Produce a combined solution for both fixed-line and wireless networks (Fixed/Mobile Convergence or FMC). A sTLD covering both fixed-line and wireless communities is essential to avoid fragmentation between these two environments.
Although there is a phased plan for getting the new domain off the ground, it is not currently clear when registration or purchase of .Tel domains will be up and running.