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Remember .Tel? It might be about to change.

.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?

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  1. John says

    One of the greatest ideas wasted by stupid owners.

    If they were smart every people, every business and every city business would already own this domain (John.tel, Painter.tel or Bostondoctors.tel)

    This domain is so easy to use and you can make your own simple webpage that is mobile ready in a few minutes.

    I still own myname.tel with all my contact details and I could not fit them on my paper business card. With my 3 telephone numbers, 3 email addresses, company details, company address, map, Facebook, Skype, Linkedin, Twitter, short video. All on my myname.tel business card.

    How stupid you have to be to ruin this great idea. I had a ”pleasure” to visit them in London and

    I have to say that it was disgusting. If I knocked on the doors of Buckingham Palace I would probably be more welcomed

    I hope someone will buy these owners out and promote this great idea.

  2. A Mitchell says

    For the last several months, on spec I’ve been doing nothing but trying to find a buyer for Telnic, with the intention of rebuilding its sole extension, .TEL. A few factors help explain why nobody has yet come forward.

    The $35 million figure cited above for Telnic’s equity financing appears low. Without going into details, it’s possible that some investors may be willing to take a haircut, but a >$40 million price tag (including transaction costs) makes it unattractive to established players in the domain industry.

    Universal acceptance of the extension remains illusive. Gmail supports it. Yahoo’s email service does not, at least not in the tests I’ve run using eNom. A new owner may be able to improve UA rates, but at a cost.

    The ostensible privacy protections offered by the extension are undercut by the inability of registrants to avail themselves of the private-registration feature that is commonly available for other extensions. The lack of private registrations hampered the adoption of .TEL and dampened the enthusiasm of registrants to create a community around it.

    The domain-dialing potential of .TEL was never realized because the apps needed for domain dialing (and POTS dialing) did not gain wide distribution or acceptance. The two mainstay uses of domain names (website browsing and email) gained wide acceptance because the applications they needed were easy-to-use and freely available.

    The ability of large organizations, including MNOs, to use .TEL as an online phonebook is limited by the cap of 1000 third-level domains per second-level domain. Delegation authority (for third-level users to update their contact info) is barred beyond the second level, as per ICANN policy.

    Other hurdles to .TEL adoption include the clumsiness of the “Tel Friends” tiered publication system, which has now apparently been deprecated. Lack of registrar support is another factor.

    .VIP achieved ROI for its registry in less than five days after launch.

    A re-launched .TEL would take considerably longer, but its potential upside is much bigger. It’s not a display domain. It is a domain that can do things.

    • John says

      This domain has a huge potential but you have to realize it that you blew it. Your people are very rude . I’ve been to your office in London and I was treated like a leper because I was told I did not announce myself ahead of time. In America I can walk into any big company office and someone will talk to me and you acted like you are some kind of gods.
      You had a lively forum where people tried to help you but you banned everybody (including me) who was trying to give you suggestions on how to improve on this great idea. You don’t like people who criticize you and you don’t listen to anybody.

      You will never get $25 millions for it. Sell it for whatever you can get for it but to someone who is smart enough to realize it’s potential and perhaps after achieving certain goals they would pay you some extra money. The way things are you will end up with nothing.

      I hope you remember Mark Kolb from Canada who spent a lot of time developing a system for your .tel and he created a website where you could add pictures and advertising to .tel site.
      He lost faith in you, he never got any financial compensation for his great work but there are still people who believe in this concept.

      Take a look at this website http://www.kielce.tel This is a medium size city in Poland. The website has all the important information about the city and is prepared to list all kind of businesses on it.
      The owner does not do it because he is not sure if he should spend more time on it because you may not be around in a few months.
      This is a great example how a city .tel domain could look like. Simple, easy to do and informative. There are thousands of cities around the world, millions of people who could use it for a business card. You don’t have much time left but it still can be saved

  3. Jean Francois says

    While I have definitely never been convinced by the current .TEL model (I welcome the good news in this article!), I am using firstname@surname.tel as my primary email address. Easy to remember and to pronounce, short, not country-bound. Apparenly, few people have paid attention to that possible use of a .tel domain name.

    • Mike Seaton says

      Yes Jean, Personal .Tels can be very useful, I often quote http://MikeSeaton.tel as a telephone contact means – it’s “Click to Call” from mobiles and automatically formats for different types of internet-conected devices.

      For .TEL to have a real future IMO 3 things need to happen:

      1. ICANN needs to refuse Telnic’s application for a 10-year renewal of the .Tel Registry.

      2. ICANN need to appoint a successful internet domain company in Telnic’s place such as Afilias – they have already showed interest in buying .TEL but Telnic never followed up on this – see http://www.teltalk.org/t4387p8-afilias-wants-to-buy-failed-gtld#15215

      3. .TEL’s current DNS restriction need to be opened up so that it can operate as a “normal” gTLD – the single point of contact option currently requiring Telnic’s namservers could still be kept as an option.

  4. John says

    .tel does not have to change, they could make a few improvements like ability to add pictures and advertising without having to use Mark Kolb’s webpage
    and .tel would be very successful the way it is. No need to change it into regular TLD. If they do this they will become anoter .pw
    All they need is a new smart owners. Telnic is run by a bunch of stupid and rude people and they have to go. They should realize that they blew it and they will never get their money back. They can get some of their money back or they will loose everything because with them running it .tel is dead but I am afraid they are too stubborn and stupid to understand it

  5. TLDnic says

    Thanks a lot for the heads up on removing these restrictions Andrew. I was able to get my last name on .TEL today since it recently dropped. It’s so common that it’s either taken on pretty much all gTLDs & ccTLDs or it carries a hefty premium price, so I’m happy to take the .TEL for now.

  6. John says

    Can you imagine where this company could be if only 1% of humans used it as a business card ? The numbers are staggering
    How stupid one can be to waste .tel potential

  7. Ricardo Vaz Monteiro says

    Hello

    Im a former Siter COO – domain dialing start-up. For those who dont know we tried to develop the concept domain dialing but instead of register a new domain mame, end user should dial the main domain of a company. Ex: I want to call google? So I dial google.com and do on.

    Its a very difficult concept to activate but In my opinion make sense from the end-user perspective. The use of other tld dont make sense at all!!! Why? Bc a end user would never know if uniliver.tel belongs to unilever.com

    besides that what really killed our concept is whatsapp. Today nobody want to make a call, even the companies dont want to receive a call.

    .tel ? Nobody will buy this estrovenga.

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