Landrush starts for .tel domains

The .tel domain has opened up to anyone wanting the remaining names.

At 3pm GMT today, the domain's manager Telnic kicks off the landrush' period, letting anyone pick up a .tel spot for a premium cost of $100 (70) a year. While trademarks such as Google and Microsoft were bought up by their owners during the so-called Sunrise' period, more generic keywords such as pizza' or London' will still be available.

During the third and last phase of the domain's rollout, starting 24 March, any remaining names can be picked up for about $10 to $20 a year.

The .tel domain is different than standard ones, which use the Domain Name System (DNS) to return an IP address, letting users find a website. Instead, .tel lets companies store data right in the DNS, meaning key data such as contact information or location details is returned.

Telnic's chief executive Khashayar Mahdavi told IT PRO that .com' addresses are all about websites, while .tel is more of a global directory. "DNS is used as an address book for IP addesses but .tel is about storing direct contact information in the DNS," he said.

"The Yellow Page business is very fragmented," he explained. "Here you get listings in a global directory."

It does this without the need for a website, he added, making it ideal for mobile devices while still being searchable.

"For a small company, you can have an online prescence without a website or paying for hosting," Mahdavi said. "That's the beauty and the revolution there."

At the moment, the main use is as a listing directory, but it can also be used for phone-based voting think reality TV here or for location-based services.

Phil Kingsland, director of communications at .uk registry Nominet, advised companies to consider the type of business they operate, the brands they want to promote, and the people they're trying to reach before making a decision on new domains. "The real nub of it is that as a business, you need to make a decision and have a domain name strategy."