ICANN Considers Domain to Organize Contact Info

Gretchen Gallen
MARINA DEL REY, Calif. – The fate of the information glut rests in ICANN’s hands, at least until the Internet oversight committee approves or denies the long awaited .tel sponsored top-level domain, which would serve as a universal information post for Internet users.

ICANN is scheduled to review the .tel domain on April 18, although it could be several months before a decision is reached, and critics claim that the sTLD would only add to the universal information glut, not help solve it.

Far less controversial than the proposed .XXX domain, which would effectively create a separate area of cyberspace for online adult companies to set up shop, the proposed sTLD would create a universal, text-based communications identifier where all contact information could be stored, including home telephone numbers, mobile numbers, home fax numbers, personal email addresses, pager numbers, work telephone numbers, work telephone extension numbers, work email addresses, work fax numbers, instant messaging addresses and other contact information.

On an individual basis, a user could use their name as a personal brand or universal identity – for example BobJones.tel – to publish all their contact information. From a telecommunications standpoint, the .tel domain would provide a gateway for that user to be directly contacted through cellphone, VoIP or texting via the information stored on the website.

The proposed domain’s sponsor, U.K.-based Telnic Limited, is the second company to submit a proposal for .tel, on the heels of an application submitted by a private U.S. corporation called Pulver.com, whose application was rejected by ICANN in 2004.

According to Telnic, the proposed sTLD is a text-based naming and navigation system that addresses the needs of the fixed-line and wireless Internet communications namespace. This namespace covers, Telnic claims, any form of Internet communication, such as voice, combined voice/data or text messaging between individuals and/or businesses that are dependent on the Internet as a means of transport.

Telnic is proposing to ICANN that .tel would provide a vehicle that would allow and encourage individuals and corporations to manage a universal identity online, within the .tel domain range. It could also provide a windfall for voice and data communications services by providing a universal identifier for information and communications services.

“Traditional telephone codes and numbers will remain critical long into the future for conventional needs,” Telnic said in its ICANN application. “However, they have reached a threshold and are unable to migrate naturally to the new Internet-centric communications world.”

Telnic has not yet said how the proposed sTLD would be priced.

ICANN has given recent approval to new domain names such as .eu, .mobi, .cat., .aero, .info.