Mobile Marketer has re-launched! Click here to learn more!

Telnic to launch new .tel domain for marketers

Registry operator Telnic will next week launch a new .tel platform that won't require a Web site and is optimized for mobile delivery with even less code than a small-screen-formatted site.

The .tel suffix is the first domain that will allow marketers to publish information to the Web, from any device, without the need for a Web site, according to Justin Hayward, communications director of Telnic, London. The new domain debuts Dec. 3.

Per Mr. Hayward, .tel information can even be accessed without having to open a Web browser. It's not about Web content, it's about communications -- all forms of communications, Mr. Hayward tells Mobile Marketer. Read on for the detailed Q&A on this latest domain to hit the market.

What was the genesis of .tel?
.tel was born out of the realization in 2000 that communications and the Internet were due to converge and that there was no appropriate neutral platform to provide an individual or a business with the ability to store and publicize all of the existing ways that people could get in touch with them, or transition over to emerging, lower-cost solutions that would save both parties money whilst also providing a higher level of personal interaction.

The other critical feature of .tel is the belief that it should be a platform that is completely under the control of the .tel owner who then has the ability to publish his or her contact information easily and simply and with a frequency of their own choosing, not at the whim of a service provider.

This information can then be globally accessible by anyone at any time over any device in real-time.

What's the need Telnic is addressing?
As predicted, communications technologies and services have proliferated since 2000.

The way in which we find, locate, interact and communicate with others has changed dramatically over the past decade.

People are more mobile now than at any other time in history, with the ability to travel around the world and the flexibility to move from place to place.

These displacements have been mirrored by the mobility of technology, with people having multiple phone numbers, emails, addresses, social networks, Web sites and blogs -- across multiple devices and services -- that enable people to connect and interact in different ways. Each is not perfect, but each provide different benefits.

With this abundance of choice comes confusion in terms of understanding the right vehicle or channel to communicate with people.

Ultimately, do we need all of these communications routes and channels? Probably not, but how do we choose the winner? How do we choose the one that is going to be the most popular? Invariably, you can't.

Because there is no one winner in this market, no single perfect platform to search, share and manage all of these ways of connecting -- with individuals and businesses -- and to transition away from old technologies to new ones which we have no idea will emerge in the future.

Telnic has created one. This is the need .tel addresses offering a single convergence platform -- a digital, dynamic and permanent business card. The only one you'll ever need.

How does a .tel domain work?
A .tel owner will have access to a management console that will enable them to store information as records directly in the DNS. This console -- a Web console to start with but which will also be built into applications that Telnic and the development community is developing -- will vary in appearance from provider to provider. Telnic cannot sell .tel domains direct to customers.

Anyone interested in an example can sign up for a beta trial domain by emailing . A .tel owner can then input his or her contact information, save it, and promote or demote it, thereby prioritizing the most or least favorite contact method.

They can also mark records private by encrypting them in the DNS, using 1024-bit, RSA standard encryption, and, through a friending system, securely share individual pieces of contact information with others by allowing access and the ability to un-encrypt that information.

All of this is made possible because .tel is a top-level domain-driven service. No other service can provide this level of control over contact information and the encryption under the complete control of the service owner, rather than the service provider.

Records are stored in the DNS, not coded as HTML on a Web server, as NAPTR (contact information), LOC (location) or TXT (search and descriptive text) records.

These records are associated directly with the domain name, not an IP address served up to the end user to find the Web server hosting the information at HTML Web pages.

Larger organizations can also use the .tel to store complex hierarchical information. They can work with registrars to import complex structures such as global directories of people in multinational organizations.

This information can then be accessed by customers or employees over mobile devices more quickly and cheaply than browsing an intranet or extranet site, as it's small chunks of data rather than large, content-rich HTML pages being accessed.

Who is Telnic targeting?
With .tel, individuals or businesses can be found wherever they are from one simple-to-remember .tel domain, and the .tel owner can fully control the modes of communication he or she chooses to receive.

At present, there are two broad usage models that effectively package services up from an individual and a business perspective.

For an individual, it's a communications hub, an interactive business card that changes depending on the viewer's relationship with the .tel owner.

And from a business perspective, it's a listing in the first, live mobile-optimized global business directory under their control and accessible from any device connected to the Internet.

Invariably, people and businesses fall into either an early-adopter or late-adopter segment.

Early adopters will have a myriad of communications methods that they will need to manage and share -- think Robert Scoble or Dell.

Late adopters will be small and large businesses and the general population that will have fewer forms of communication that they want to share, but would still like to not miss out on being connected.

So Bob the window cleaner who previously used the Yellow Pages communicating to a local audience can suddenly reach a far broader audience and have a Web presence with a .tel address.

The best part is he can do all of this without incurring the sometimes significant fees associated with designing and maintaining a Web site.

With .tel if Bob drops his cell phone into his bucket of water he can quickly switch his .tel address to point people to another number and not lose any customers.

Similarly, a large company that needs to get an emergency number out quickly to manage a crisis or product recall can use.tel to publish information on the Internet within seconds, complying with best practices in corporate communications and disclosure.

Alternatively, [these companies can] replicate their IVR through the .tel and allow grateful customers to connect to the department they want to quickly without having to wait on the phone for "Press 1 for new customers, press 2 for existing customers," and so on, thereby delivering superior customer service without the feeling of an automated system.

What is the pricing model?
Pricing is set by registrars but the traditional model is that a top-level domain is purchased for a period of one to 10 years although some organizations will spread the cost over an annual period.

Unlike other TLDs, there are no reserved names, no premium names and no auctions. .tel is first come, first served.

There is a Sunrise period for trademark owners where they can pay for a domain for three years and also pay a third-party a validation fee of around $275 per application.

After the two-month Sunrise period, landrush commences on Feb. 3.

This is the period when anyone can purchase an available .tel domain but the price will be at a premium and we're already seeing strong demand from individuals pushing to secure the names they want but don't have trademarks for.

Finally, from March 24, the price is anticipated to settle down to a normal gTLD region, which is anticipated to range between $15-$25 per year.

That said, a number of registrars are looking at different pricing options, bearing the wholesale cost and using the .tel as a platform to deliver new communications solutions, such as VoIP, click to call, follow me anywhere numbers and CRM solutions for small businesses.

Others, such as operators and handset manufacturers might use the .tel to provide a communications hub and upsell new services, social networks, content and access to data services.

So the model is and will continue to evolve.

How will this domain differ from the other domains?
.tel is the first top-level domain that doesn't allow an owner to host a Web site. It's not about Web content, it's about communications -- all forms of communications.

.tel is the first domain that allows you to publish information to the Web, from any device, without the need for a Web site. .tel information can even be accessed without having to open a Web browser.

Some are referring to this as the "Webless Web," because it requires no ongoing fees for Web hosting, no Web coding, and can be changed at a moment's notice to be updated.

As a .tel address is not a Web site, people accessing the information over mobile devices will get to it as quickly as their Internet connection allows.

Further, the cost of access -- for example, while roaming -- is much smaller because .tel code is more streamlined than when downloading HTML code.

How will .tel be indexed by the search engines?
Search engines already visit the DNS to look up records. In fact, it's already quicker for these engines to read all of the information from the DNS which is formatted in a way that they understand than information residing on a traditional Web site.

As .tel is structured information with labels in each record, it's Googlejuice. And, of course, it can provide another link to drive better discovery and linkage to your existing Web properties.

For more technical information about records in the DNS, our developer Web site, http://dev.telnic.org, has a mass of whitepapers and APIs for people to delve into.

Who would you consider as your primary competitor?
Definitely not other top-level domains!

.tel is a publishing platform, focused on connecting people with other people or businesses. So really, it competes against Web-based directories, limited and fragmented Yellow or White Page solutions, cached and outdated information in search engines and old-fashioned business cards.

While .tel contains elements of a network, it has none of the time-wasting elements of a social network and also provides greater granularity of contact sharing than existing business contact solutions.

The nice part about .tel is that people looking to get in touch with you don't have to join a closed community to access your information -- and yet you as an individual continue to retain 100 percent control over that information and can make it private at any time.

What about dotMobi?
Again, .mobi is about Web content, but content optimized for one format -- mobile devices.

.tel is focused on communications, not content, and it can be accessed in the right format across all browsers and many devices without needing to open a browser.

.tel is the first mobile-optimized contacts directory under the control of the individual listing owner, who has the power to change it at any time.

Furthermore, .tel information can bypass the Web completely and be accessed through applications directly on PCs or mobile devices.

Example applications can be found at http://dev.telnic.org and have been created for the iPhone, the BlackBerry, Microsoft Outlook and Windows Mobile. These are open source and anyone can take them and develop them further.

What is it about .tel that should appeal to marketers, publishers and small business owners?
As .tel information is stored in the DNS, it can be accessed quickly and cheaply. Your brand can jump directly into people's address books and remain there, updated every time you need it to be.

A .tel also supports search engine optimization out of the box, as all of the information is stored as machine-readable, standards-based records with descriptions, so Google can index it and understand it better than a traditional Web site.

Finally, it's low cost and can be refreshed continuously without significant investment in development, ongoing hosting fees or complex and expensive SEO to make sure it remains discoverable.

It's the perfect Internet billboard for bite-sized information. It's great for running competitions quickly, pointing to other sites such as auctions or Web chats.

You can quickly change headlines for breaking news stories. You can use the text records to highlight special offers. And you can monetize it through premium rate numbers, SMS downloads and other cost-per-click solutions.

What are you doing to market the service?
We've been educating enterprises since they will be among the first to be able to purchase a .tel address.

Telnic has been running a marketing campaign over the last few months and will be shortly embarking on a broader publicity campaign that will hit individual consumers and small businesses.

Our channel -- the registrar and reseller community -- has also been reaching out to their customers and early interest is strong.

This should make the business audience sit up and re-examine their investments in this area.

We believe that usage will be generated at the grassroots level and then percolate up.

Companies who invest in a .tel from the start could derive significant and unique benefits.

After all, it's a lot cheaper to retain a customer than to acquire one, so many are saying that getting a .tel is a no-brainer when it comes to smarter business and customer retention.

What's the charm of .tel for mobile marketers?
The .tel is the purest form of advertising and people will go there specifically because they are looking for what is on offer.

The contact information is the advert. It's the opposite of stealth marketing.

The product is the marketing as you are sharing all the ways in which people can interact with you or purchase from you.

It cuts out the middleman but can also be used to direct people to other sites, depending on the .tel owner's desire.

Customers and viewers of the .tel will appreciate it for what it doesn't do -- bombarding the reader with pay-per-click advertisements.

So people can connect in any way they want -- be it by visiting a Web site, picking up the phone or sending an email.

And finally, the .tel platform is optimized for mobile delivery with even less code than a small-screen formatted Web site.