First wave of .tel domains go on sale
Companies looking to protect their trademark can now secure a .tel domain ahead of the mainstream launch of the new top level domain.
The first wave of sales of .tel domain names began at 3pm today, kick-starting mainstream interest in the new top level domain (TLD) and information sharing platform.
Right now, businesses with valid trademarks can claim the corresponding .tel domain name for a fee a process known as the Sunrise period. This allows companies such as McDonalds or eBay, for example, to purchase .tel domains that relate to their brand names and registered trademarks without having to contend with cyber squatters and profiteers.
From 3 February 2009, anyone will be able to buy a .tel for a premium price. Known as the Landrush phase, this will allow people to register names and generic terms, for example, rickshaw.tel or hotdog.tel. The Landrush phase will be followed by general availability at an everyday price from 24 March 2009.
However, .tel domains work differently to the TLDs we are used, to like .com and .co.uk. There is no need for an actual web site to be associated with a .tel domain, as all the key information you would want to convey via the address, such as phone numbers, email addresses, postal addresses and so on, are stored in the actual domain name record.
The data is then displayed in a uniform way to anyone visiting the .tel address from a multitude of different browsers and devices. The data held on the domain can be integrated with address books and corporate communication servers such as Exchange and Active Directory.
"The launch of .tel represents the most significant innovation in the domain name system since the advent of .com," said Khashayar Mahdavi, chief executive of Telnic, the .tel registry operator.
"Essentially, the .tel offers businesses of all sizes a fast, efficient, adaptable and intelligent service that will let customers interact with them in any way they want. Anyone that wants to communicate better with their customers should purchase a .tel."
Existing TLD registrars welcomed the arrival of .tel with cautious optimism.
"Businesses will need to be aware of the potential uses of .tel and how it can work for them," said Phil Kingsland, director of communications at .uk registry operator Nominet.
"They should have a clear and robust domain name strategy in place, so that when new TLDs such as these (and there may be potentially many more coming with the new ICANN process for allocating TLDs opening up next year) come onto the market they are ready for them."
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