Social network MySpace and British telecoms provider BT will be among the first companies to offer a new type of Web domain for their users to manage their contact details live online.
Telnic, the registry operator for .tel top-level domains, announced the general availability of such domains for all businesses this week. Having a .tel domain allows individuals or companies to have an Internet presence without having a Website.
UK-based Telnic describes .tel as a means to a 21st century business card, replacing the need for a physical card whose contact details will sooner or later become outdated.
You have two problems today: a multiplicity of information, and mobility, Telnic's Chief Executive Khashayar Mahdavi told Reuters in a telephone interview. .tel won't change.
Contact details can be published and managed on a .tel domain by their owners and can be accessed via any Internet-connected device without necessarily using a browser.
This is because the data is held within the Internet's domain name system (DNS). In the case of other types of domain such as .com the DNS holds details of where information can be found, but not the actual data.
Telnic says owners will be able to control who can find their contact details. They will also be able to search-optimize their data to make it easily discoverable in a Web search.
As well as MySpace and BT, Germany's iWelt -- a directory-services company with about 8 million customers, also announced a partnership with UK-based Telnic this week.
BT will initially offer .tel domains through its social networking site for small businesses, BT Tradespace.
Telnic will receive a percentage of revenues from .tel domain names sold by its partners.
Until now trademark holders such as Nestle,, Google and the author J.K. Rowling have been able to register their .tel names, followed by a period in which companies could pay a premium to have their pick of names.
Now, remaining .tel domains are generally available for between $12 and $35 per year.
Telnic's technology also holds the long-term possibility of helping all telephony migrate to the Internet.
Among other technologies that can do this are Skype's proprietary system, and ENUM -- a technology that translates existing phone numbers into Internet domain names.
(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Sharon Lindores)