A global telephone directory
Added on: Saturday 28th February 2009
From 24th March everyone will be able to register a .tel domain. This new top level domain is very different to all the others that are currently used though.
The idea of the new .tel domain is that it is used to store contact information for companies or individuals.
You might argue that this is already done by having a website on any of the other domains.
The difference though is that you won't need a website as the details are stored directly in the DNS. You can think of this as similar to doing a whois lookup at the moment - the owner, admin and technical contact details are all stored against this record.
With a .com or .co.uk domain for example when someone requests a URL the DNS looks up the location of the page and this is then loaded into the users browser.
The .tel domain doesn't need to forward you to a slow loading website but simply loads all the contact information for that company or individual into your internet enabled device (it could be a mobile phone or palm top device).
So what are the advantages in this? It is being touted as a single point of contact for a company or individual enabling them to publish all their contact details such as telephone numbers, fax numbers, email addresses, website links etc and also include location information and keywords for search engines. In short a global directory.
Will it work? As with any directory or listing it will only really be useful if it is taken up by the majority and there seems to be little or no hype relating to it at the moment even though priority registration has been available since early December.
Also, as of the time of writing you can't access any .tel domains from a web browser and a google search on companies such as IBM or even Google itself doesn't present a .tel result.
It seems as if most people are waiting to see what will happen before they jump on board and at the moment its just another 'must have marketing tool' being forced on them.
The difference though is that it will use the DNS system which is the backbone of the Internet so it is tried and tested technology which so far has proved extremely reliable.
I must admit that I will be watching this closely as I like the idea of a single, easily updatable point of contact and if it is universally adopted it will revolutionise the way we get information. Whether it will replace the likes of Google, Facebook etc as marketing tools is another debate.