Ring Ring goes the .Tel-ephone

businesszoneOriginally written for Business Zone.The internet is awash with hundreds of zany domain names. We all instantly recognise the Top Level Domain (TLD) extensions such as .com and .co.uk, but the spectrum goes all the way from .au (Australia) via .tv (the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu) to .name and .pro. Joining the party is the recently launched domain extension .tel from a company called Telnic. The question has to be asked whether we need another TLD, and what is it for?Firstly, is that this isn't your regular domain name. Unlike its traditional counterparts the .tel domain is not for hosting web sites, instead Telnic is trying to create a contact book for the web. The domain allows you to store and publish your contact information (including social networking details), along with relevant keywords, all under a single identity. This information is stored in the many DNS (Domain Name System) servers around the world. Telnic calls it the 'webless web'.This idea is pretty smart; DNS is a universally accepted protocol and the founding cornerstone of the web as we know it today. To put it simply, it's a format that can be read by any web-connected device on the planet.Looking at my email signature, I have four contact telephone numbers, an email address, business and personal web pages, Skype and Twitter IDs. The list seems to go on for ever. The problem is that I can never remember them all, and if anything changes it's a nightmare. The .tel domain brings all of this contact information together. All I have to remember is bdyer.tel.So, what is it going to be used for?Potentially the opportunities are endless, especially in the mobile and physical meeting space. Using .tel as an electronic ID for exchanging contact information might be the final straw that breaks the back of the business card, saving a lot of trees in the process.The domain also has a number of interesting side effects, an unexpected one being in connection with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Due to the very nature of the domain, you associate your contact details with keywords and all of this content is machine-readable. This up-to-date information is invaluable to search engines because it comes from a central trusted authority (Telnic) which search engines consider highly relevant.It's still early days to decide if the new domain will take off. However the hundreds of thousands already sold is a good indicator .tel is on the right track.