.Tel might become a typical top level domain.
Domain name registries can learn a lot from the story of Telnic, a $35 million investment gone awry.
Telnic’s .Tel domain name is, without a doubt, the most innovative top level domain name because of how it stores information in the DNS. But being innovative doesn’t mean it’s a great business model. The company is running low on cash.
Registrants of .tel domain names can use them to set up simple contact and directory websites. Registrars that offer the domain names have to integrate with a system to create .tel user accounts for each registrant. It’s a lot of work for registrars, and registrars also can’t sell lucrative hosting to go along with the domains.
This might be about to change. The proposed renewal of Telnic’s contract to run .tel will remove existing provisions for how .tel domains operate. Registrants will now be able to use .tel domain names just like other domain names and point them to the nameservers of their choice.
In a letter to ICANN’s board (pdf), Telnic CEO Khashayar Mahdavi notes that the DNS requirements resulted in top registrars refusing to carry .tel and that “through a relaxation in restrictions, we will be able grow and innovate at a much quicker rate.”
Frankly, I’m not sure why anyone would be interested in registering an unrestricted .tel. To look old-fashioned? Why not .rotaryphone?