Telnic's .tel breaks away from the .mob

The rivals for the job of creating an internet domain for mobile content have broken cover, now that regulator Icann's closing...

The rivals for the job of creating an internet domain for mobile content have broken cover, now that regulator Icann's closing date for applications has passed.

The mTLD application, backed by Nokia, Vodafone Group and Microsoft, have come up against the form of a bid for a ".tel" domain.

The ".tel" proposal, put together by Telnic and using the name Telname, has a proof of concept and an informative website.

Both proposals target businesses and content providers more than end users, offering ways to streamline contact with these organisations over different kinds of devices, although Telname emphasises its approach is broader than just mobile devices - hence its request for ".tel", rather than ".mobile" or ".mob".

Telname wants to set up a system designed for combined devices which can phone, e-mail or browse, so a ".tel" address (such as takes you first to contact details rather than a website.

The user types in the name "hertz" and a text-based lookup service gives them all the contact details the company wants to publicise, and can click straight through to e-mail, text or phone the company, or browse a version of its website suitable for the given device.

The demo, which was shown to the UMTS Forum in May 2003, was created by Telnic and Siemens' Roke Manor subsidiary, and runs on phones based on Nokia's Series 60 platform, Pocket PC machines, and Palm systems.

Although it links telephones with internet addresses, the Telname proposal has nothing in common with the ENUM scheme which aims to turn phone numbers into numeric addresses so that internet devices can phone them. Telnic says they are complementary, and the two ideas do more or less opposite things. ENUM turns phone numbers into numeric web addresses, while .tel would provide text addresses, which link through to a choice of contact methods.

Telname declined to name the company is backing it, and who paid to develop the proposal.

By contrast, with the mTLD application, little else is known about it besides the big-name backers. The original backers, Microsoft, Nokia, Vodafone, Orange, the GSM Association, Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems and Samsung Electronics were joined by T-Mobile UK and Telecom Italia Mobile by the closing date.

Icann will publish all the bids it has received for sponsored top-level domains (sTLDs) on its site next month.

Peter Judge writes for

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