.TEL - Another TLD is Set to Launch
I'm not certain that domain fatigue is a recognized medical condition, but each time another domain extension is launched I get a new batch of e-mails and phone calls from friends and business acquaintances.
For a few people, a new extension is an opportunity to pick up some prime domains for their portfolios, but most just want to know the potential significance of the extension and whether they should get one - or can they go ahead and skip the latest offering.
From Skeptic to .TEL Convert
Despite the fact that it was approved more than two years ago, there's been very little noise about .TEL domain, which will be available to trademark holders in December and available for general registration in March 2009. It certainly hasn't been a big blip on my radar, so I thought better do a bit of research before getting back to people.
I can tell you right away that Telleguay isn't a real country. Nor is Telistan, Telungary, Telomba or any of the other T.e.l. possibilities for countries or regions that first ran through my mind.
In fact, there's a clue here in that ccTLD's (Country Code Top Level Domains) like .US, .CN and .EU have only two characters. Generic Top Level Domains or gTLD's have three or more characters like .COM, .ORG, .BIZ and .MOBI and normally denote special vertical interests. Strictly speaking .TEL is a sTLD or Sponsored TLD, but this is a fine distinction for most people.
Somewhat disappointingly .TEL doesn't stand for Television and won't work with your Tivo. Nor it doesn't stand for telekinesis, which would be worth getting for the sheer kitsch value (for anyone else that's similarly disappointed, the recent ruling by ICANN may still yield such bizarre domain extensions, so don't worry unduly).
More mundanely it appears to be .Tel as in Telephone, or maybe Telephony or even Telecommunications - it's not entirely clear. In any event, we've only recently had .MOBI and between .MOBI, WAP, WML, ENUM and a host of other mobile and phone related protocols, surely we already have the whole phone thing wrapped up.
Apparently it goes beyond that and has to do with your identity. But the identity space is pretty full too with the likes of .NAME, .ME as well as MSN Passport, OpenID and the whole Identity 2.0 thing.
The fact is, the new .TEL seems to share elements of all of these and at the same time it's different from all of them. For one thing, it's very simple. And this is where I began to move from a skeptic to a convert.
What Makes .TEL Different?
.TEL isn't about single sign on. It's not about building a website or blog that's all about you. .TEL is probably best described as an entry in a global directory. Like a giant 411, white pages or yellow pages, but one in which you interactively control your information and decide who sees what.
This may seem somewhat dull and elicit the same reaction my son might show if I came home with news that I'd opened a new savings account for him instead of buying him a new X-box. But it does have value - and far reaching value.
What's so interesting about .TEL is that it leverages the proven Domain Name System (DNS) infrastructure to neatly and simply solve a problem that all of us face. A problem that many have tried to solve and that is still largely unresolved. Until now.
According to Tim Hartford in The Undercover Economist, "Each year one in three people change jobs and one in seven people move". Add to that, the number of people that change their cell phone number, their phone number, change their e-mail address, create a new Facebook or LinkedIn account or start a new blog. The maintenance of contact information and keeping up to date is becoming a full time job in itself.
Despite my best efforts to update my contacts, add in new contacts, synchronize and backup my devices, it seems that over the years, more and more contacts become obsolete. Even keeping up with the movements of extended family is difficult, let alone passing acquaintances and interesting people I meet at conferences.
What I want - what I need - is the very thing .TEL promises to deliver: one point of contact.
One point of contact, one entry and no more darn updates.
"John Smith, it was great working you on that project. Let's keep in touch. johnsmith.tel you say? Perfect, I'll just pop that in my Blackberry."
And that's it. I don't care if John loses his cell phone, moves three times and changes jobs every six months. Whenever I want to contact him, my Blackberry will just suck in his current information. I never have to update his contact information again. If I don't happen to have my Blackberry on me (ha!) I can just as easily use Outlook or go to www.johnsmith.tel and pull it off the web.
Utility for Every Individual
So when people ask me whether they should get a .TEL, my answer is going to be an unequivocal "yes". Yes, because the way things are going and the amount of information I need to deal with a .TEL is may be the only sure way I'm going to manage to keep in contact with you over the long term.
So while .TEL isn't the coolest or the sexiest bit of technology ever developed, I truly believe that it may be one of the most important in recent years. It could well be the contact information equivalent to the quiet revolution of e-mail or the cell phone. And getting one early means you get one best suited to your personal or company name.
In truth I want others to get a .Tel even more than I want one for myself, because you having one makes my life easier.
I will of course get one for myself. Plus one for my business and one for everyone in my family. My son may not thank me the way he would for the X-box, but in ten years time, when he's got a great .TEL name and it's the de facto way to exchange contact information, he'll appreciate it - along with the savings account.
And of course, if Telleguay ever does become a country and I end up moving there, my .Tel will help ensure that friends, family and business colleagues will be able to still be able to find me easily.
Vist Webnames.ca's .TEL page for more information.
Prebook your .TEL domain names with Webnames.ca today for Sunrise, Landmark or General Registration.