Dot Tel

There’s a new addition to the roster of domain name suffixes coming: .tel And it’s unique among extensions in at least a couple of ways. First, its distribution is in wholly private and commercial hands — you’ll pay to play — and second, it won’t locate a place on the web. Evidently, dot tel will lead to a collection of your resources located right on the domain name server, and what it serves up will depend on how you come to it and where you come from. The idea is to make the DNS emit information that is responsive to your particular context; and the typical example is the delivery of business contact information: if you enter the dot tel address from a mobile phone, you’ll get a local phone number; from a brower, a local address, etc. The beauty is that all the user needs to recall is one simple word or phrase and it will always deliver up accurate contact information.

The story in the Guardian sums up the dot tel difference by pointing out that the URL doesn’t take you to the web but rather to the internet.

Domain names go on sale in two waves: from now until February 2 is the “sunrise” period, where trademark owners can apply to obtain their mark as a domain; thereafter is the so-called “landrush” period, where it’s first come, first served.

Telnic is the corporation that is selling the dot tel domains, which in Canada, at least, NetFirms is marketing at $380 a pop for a three-year period.

In a post earlier this week, I asked “What’s New” in IT apps and got a lot of really thoughtful replies. But this development, which I only learned about recently, has within it the seeds of the next really important development in IT: rather than working through the medium of websites, requests on the internet will return context-sensitive data in forms that are perfectly responsive to the requesting medium. It’s not exactly the death of the web, but its repositioning to a place less central in the scheme of things — at least for run-of-the-mill data. Its as if we’re at the stage where we’re learning that to perform certain important acts the signal doesn’t have to go all the way to the brain and back but can operate by way of the much faster reflexes that only touch the spinal cord.

At any rate, if I ran a big law firm with offices in Here, There and Everywhere, I’d be snapping up one of these dot tel domains right pronto and having my IT folks figure it all out to make sure we were somewhere near the front of this thing.


  1. Nice writeup on these. At first I was thinking you were a skeptic, but I see you do believe in these. I’ve be watching this closely, trying to figure if these will boom or bust. Seems more bust than boom at the moment. Reason? Well these things aren’t cheap right now. The other bigger issue I see is that people of the general public really don’t grasp the concept or how these work. Eventually people may understand, but remember domain names have always been part of the geeks domain. General public can utilize dot tel domains, but they need to undertand the simplicity first.

  2. What will the yellow pages do? Will there be a master directory called or will there be competing subdirectories like or ?

  3. Great article and comments. I beieve that .TEL has all the markings of a disruptive technology. Just as we managed to get by before the web, e-mail and the cell phone, we can get by without .TEL – but if it makes our lives just that bit easier and is just a bit better than existing solutions, I think the mass adoption will happen.

    One of the current barriers is integration. The example of entering a .TEL from a mobile and being connected to a local number is definitely a possibility, but it’s entirely dependent on the software or firmware implementation. Developers are just beginning to explore the opportunities, but the really exciting thing is that we are talking about a technology with a relatively open and accessible framework and over the coming year we will see some very clever integration initiatives emerge. Mr Fodden hits the nail on the head when he suggests that all of us need to start thinking about strategy and how best to position our organizations in readiness for what’s ahead.

    To Mr Kolb’s comment about the Yellow Page, Telnic are provisioning a .TEL directory at This will allow lookups of .TEL names and developers will also be able to integrate .TEL lookup in their applications. It’s not working at the moment but will probably come online shortly after the 25th of February when all current .TEL names go live and start resolving through the DNS.

    I think the Yellow Pages will continue to be with us for a long time to come. They do a great job of keeping up with the times and latest technologies. In the short term, I think we’ll see company .TEL names simply added to existing listing details. The Yellow Pages also add a familiar and much needed structure to .TEL, which is completely definable by the user in every conceivable way. Over time we will see the evolution of common schemas for data and methods of codifying .TELs.

    For personal .TELs, my hope is that I can replace my current White Pages entry with my .TEL name so that I can remain listed, but instead of giving away my details on the page, people will see my .TEL name. To see my actual contact details they will have to send me a friending request, giving me control of my contact details and allowing me to protect my privacy.

  4. I think you totally nailed it with this beautiful metaphor:

    “Its as if we’re at the stage where we’re learning that to perform certain important acts the signal doesn’t have to go all the way to the brain and back but can operate by way of the much faster reflexes that only touch the spinal cord.”

    Would love to see more blog posts from you on this subject.

  5. Awesome article, i ended up coming across another good article on the net regarding the dot tel tld. If your interested in tying this all together take a look at

  6. There are many new features and applications of dottel are coming from Telnic,and there are also many third-party application are under development, I think in near future, thousands more people will join the dottel world.

  7. Definitely I’m predicting a boom with this technology. All you have to do is look at how quickly this technology has taken shape over the last 4 months since these names have been released.

    I have noticed that there are several excellent Dot Tel domain names developed such as Long distance, SOS1 and Vancouver Taxi

    I’ve also seen many schools creating their whole communication structre around this technology.

    I”ll bet by Christmas we’ll see a good portion of these dot tels developed creating a massive directory for quick communication access.