The first round of registrations for the new .tel domain has opened.
The new top level domain isn't a run of the mill domain like, for example .com or .org. It will allow both individuals and companies to store all their contact information in the DNS (Domain Name System) without the need to build, host or manage a website, according to Telnic, which is operating .tel.
.Tel is about making it simple for people to get in touch with a domain owner, according to Justin Hayward, communications director at Telnic.
"That might be listing a traditional telephone number or it may be about a website, but it can incorporate any and all forms of digital communications as it stands, including location records and also textual keywords that enable the .tel to be search-engine optimised," said Hayward.
He has decided to include, for example, phone numbers, his Twitter page, a Google Maps location and a Skype address at his domain, justin.tel.
"I have made it publicly available, but it could easily be privatized to protect the contact information from spammers," said Hayward.
Solving privacy issues is one of the reasons it has taken so long for .tel to get off the ground - Telnic was awarded the .tel domain in May 2006 - but those issues have now been resolved, according to Hayward.
Information associated with .tel addresses will be available to any device that is connected to the internet. The user types in the address and a page with all the available contact information will come back, according to Hayward.
Users can then click on the information to start, for example, a chat session or a phone call. That will only work, of course, if the right application or functionality is in place.
"We've also created a number of different applications, both for the PC and mobile devices that enable you to bypass the Web completely and access .tel information from the address book," said Hayward.
Applications have been created for the iPhone and BlackBerry and Windows Mobile devices, and for Microsoft Outlook.
Using these will make it even cheaper and quicker to access information from the DNS. It will also make the address book a very live and dynamic application, rather than static and having to be manually updated, according to Hayward.
The applications have been open sourced to attract developers to do more with the domain. One developer has, for example, created a plug-in for the Wordpress blogging platform, according to Hayward.
To make searching for information easier, Telnic also plans to launch a directory service called telpages.com during next year. It will only search .tel domains for relevant information.
The launch is backed up by 120 registrars worldwide spanning 29 countries, according to Telnic.
From 3 pm Greenwich Mean Time on Wednesday only trademark owners were able to apply for a domain - the so-called sunrise period.
That period will end 2 February 2009 and will be immediately followed by a period during which anyone who is willing to pay a premium price can get their hands on a domain. On 24 March 2009 registrations will be open to everyone, at a lower cost.
Three-year registrations made during the sunrise period will cost between US$300 and $400, according to Hayward.
During the second period, Domainmonster.com will charge €120 (£104) for a single domain.
Generally, after March 24, Telnic expects domain registrations to cost around $15 to $25.
The domain will go live on 3 February 2009.