A new top level domain for communications launches – .tel

.tel, a new top level domain, is about to launch with a Sunrise period reserved for registration for trademark owners to commence on 3 December. Following this period, open registration then commences in a Landrush period on 3 February 2009. In both periods, applications will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis, with a validation fee (where Deloitte assesses the validity of the trademark) applying in Sunrise and a premium price applying in Landrush. General registration commences on 24 March 2009 for the remaining domain names.So what is .tel? .tel is all about communications and enabling individuals and businesses to store and manage all their contact information and keywords directly in the domain name system without the need to build, host or manage a website and all using your unique domain name. The information is then accessible from any device connected to the internet and it is up to the registrant who that information is made available to – everyone or a select few friends.Unlike standard websites where internet protocol (IP) addresses are stored for a web server which then delivers html content for download, with a .tel name, the information stored in the domain is delivered as data and then presented in a format suitable for any device accessing the information. From a computer, the information is delivered by a ‘proxy’ web page (a template that presents the information which has been ‘sucked’ from the DNS). If one is accessing information from a smart phone, this will be delivered in an appropriate mobile proxy page format if viewed over a browser.Telnic has also developed software that will integrate .tel listings into the contacts of computers and smart phones. So if one changes their phone number or email address, the updated information is automatically updated in a contact database such as Outlook, the BlackBerry, Windows Mobile-powered devices and iPhones. These applications have been released in open source format, meaning developers can take them and develop them further or translate them to work on other platforms too. All this means that .tel information can be accessed without having to go out to the Web at all.For business, if I am travelling and looking for a hotel in Paris, I can search the .tel database (using www.telpages.com when it goes live later in 2009), look it up from my address book or favourites in my browser or, using a search engine, for the keywords “hotel” and “paris”. (As .tel information is structured and the records are very recognisable to search engines, .tel domains will be strong tools for search engine optimisation as they have to crawl the DNS for A records (IP addresses) anyway.) Hotels with a .tel name will be able to list their contact details, even availability, as well as location records and multi-lingual keywords with all information quickly downloaded onto my mobile device.As the one key restriction for .tel owner being they cannot host their own website on a .tel domain (as the IP address always has to point to the proxy page), pay per click advertising will not be possible. Whilst cybersquatting, where registrants register domain names of famous names or companies hoping to sell the domain name to the rightful owner, remains an industry problem, as the .tel simply points to contact information, if the .tel owner contravenes the terms of the Acceptable Use Policy each .tel owner has to abide by, there are a number of potential defences prior to legal action which complainants can go through.For individuals, if privacy is an issue for the information published, you can also choose who you want to access the data you provide. It is also a secure way of sharing information between social networking accounts, such as between Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and others – .tel owners will be able to put their .tel domain name as the contact information, protecting their valuable contact information and affording more personal sharing of information beyond the levels set by those social networksUnder the Sunrise and Landrush periods, registration attracts a premium registration fee for a minimum of a three year registration. It is likely that most generic and descriptive domain names will be registered during this period.Trademark holders should consider defensive registrations to ensure their name isn’t taken by a third party to protect against cybersquatting and typosquatting. However, many trademark and brand owners are seeing the benefits of a listing in the first global directory, under their control, that is accessible from any device connected to the internet. This is the most basic functionality on offer to them and further functionality is expected to be added in 2009.Once these periods have finished, general registration will commence on 24 March 2009 for remaining domain names at prices comparable to other top level domains.More information on .tel can be found at telnic.org/.

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