Exploring .tel – a communications profile parallel to the internet


telnic-devices.gifOkay, this is going to be a bit tricky to explain, so pay attention. Telnic is a company who own the .tel domain name. Never heard of it? That’s okay – it’s not publicly available yet. It’s basically a global contacts database for people. You register a domain, like http://henry.tel/, and it acts as a central repository for all the different ways people can contact you.

You can save URLs, email addresses, phone numbers, usernames, locations – all sorts. You can also specifiy keywords that describe you – for example I might write “blogger”, “technology” and “DJ” there. Each has a clickable link which will open it in any service that you specify. For example, you can just click on a Skype username, and it’ll try and open Skype to call it.

So far so good, but what about privacy? Well, you’ll be able to allow different people access to different things. Presumably this will include a login of some sort, and some kind of verification of your identity, as well as a ‘friending’ process, like a social network.

It’s the DNS factor that differentiates .tel from any other online contact list service. When you type in a website, a normal domain will send back an IP address, stored in the DNS, which then points you to a web server that delivers the pages you request.

.tel, on the other hand, stores the contact info directly in the DNS. The domain name is mapped to that contact info. This means that when you type the domain name in, the contact info is sucked down directly, without having to liase with a web server – it should still be a hell of a lot faster than opening up an HTML page with the same info on.

If you’re still following this, you’re doing well.

All this means three things. Firstly, it’s fast. You don’t have to contact two servers to get the info you want, just one. Secondly, it’s compatible with any device that can get an internet connection. Thirdly, and most importantly, it’s easy. You could type in duncangeere.tel, and then phone me with just one click.

You can also integrate .tel info into address books very easily. Applications can be downloaded that keep your address book in sync with a user’s .tel page. This would mean that your info was never out-of-date, as long as the user keeps his page updated.

.tel doesn’t compete with social networks, because it just stores ways of contacting people – it doesn’t make any of that contact itself. I suppose it competes with the Phone Book, or the Yellow Pages. However, given that BT have spectacularly missed the trick of creating an online Phone Book, there’s no reason why .tel shouldn’t fill the gap instead.

Here’s the bad news – you can’t get your .tel yet. If you own a trademark on the domain you’ll be registering, you can get it on 3rd December, but most of us will have to wait until at least 3rd February 2009 – that’s when ‘land rush’ registrations start. These will carry a premium price. When that’s over, general availability will begin on 24th March 2009.

So basically, it’s an online repository of your contact info that’s ridiculously easy to access. It’s going to be available from your local domain registrar next year. Alternatively, if this whole post made no sense to you at all, then try this video out:


Related posts: THE MAN orders boy to hand his Narnia domain name over to the relevant copyright holders | Tons of new domain names to hit the web – a .disaster waiting to .happen?

Duncan Geere
For latest tech stories go to TechDigest.tv