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Sunday, 16 April 2006 18:50

Proposed .tel domain a futile exercise

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It seems that these days there are so many different ways to contact people that their friends and associates have to keep a database of the landlines, fax numbers, mobile numbers, email addresses, websites, Skype handles and - who knows - some people may even still be contactable by telex.
Perceiving this to be a growing problem, various telecommunications and internet authorities have taken it upon themselves to solve it for the growing masses who threaten to be drowned in communications channels overload. Last year, we reported upon an initiative that was purportedly taking the world by storm called ENUM. Using the ENUM system, users could opt to store their various communications addresses, such as email, voice call and fax, in a single storage silo addressed by a telephone number. This year, the current rage for solving the multi-channel communications issue is to give everybody their own domain name with a .tel suffix.

However, just as the ENUM intiative is fraught with unanswered questions such as whether people would actually want others to have access to all their available points of contact through a single number, a .tel web site in which individuals could provide their latest contact information is similarly hazy in the details of its operation.

For a start, as many have pointed out, virtually anyone can already register their own .com, .org or .net domain for peanuts. These websites could already be used as repositories for contact information if individuals so desire. Secondly, as Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo! Mail users will attest, there are so many individual intenet users with similar names, that it's almost impossible to get to use your own name. Finally, once again we get down to the privacy issue. How do we regulate who gets contact to what communications channels?
Judging by its activities over the past couple of years, ICANN, which governs the creation and assignment of internet domains, is simply bursting with enthusiasm to create a bunch of new and seemingly useless domains - they even want to create one for porn sites. However, ask most internet users to name the domains they recognise and, other than their own local domains, they'll come back with .com, .org, .net and maybe .edu. None of the others, such as .travel, .info or .jobs, has really caught on. So, why pray tell, do we need yet another domain that nobody will ever use?

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Stan Beer

 

Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 30 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.

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