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The .tel domain

3rd Dec 2008

Recently launched (although with registration restricted to trademark holders right now) is the .tel top-level domain. The marketing on their website sells it as a domain where you can publish your contact information without needing to make a website. Implementation-wise this means that they run the DNS service for you and point it at their webapp which publishes the information you supplied.

One thing they don't make a big deal of is what's going on in the DNS for these domains:

NAPTR	100 101 "u" "E2U+voice:tel+x-mobile" "!^.*$!tel:+16468889999!" .
NAPTR	100 102 "u" "E2U+voice:tel+x-work" "!^.*$!tel:+12125551234!" .
NAPTR	100 103 "u" "E2U+email:mailto" "!^.*$!!" .
NAPTR	100 104 "u" "E2U+x-im:skype" "!^.*$!skype:emma123!" .
NAPTR	100 105 "u" "E2U+web:http+x-lbl:Myspace_page" "!^.*$!!" .

Yes, someone has actually made use of the NAPTR record type for something. I'm not sure if any clients can make use of the above right now, but at least someone publishing it is one step in the right direction. I find NAPTR interesting because -- with this application at least -- it's using domain names to identify people. OpenID gets a lot of flack for using URLs to identify people, so I'm doubtful that identifying onesself as "" would catch on either, especially since you need to pay for the privilege.

They support access control on the user pages so that you can make your information available only to your friends. The catch is that your friends must sign up for an account at your .tel-provided site to do this, which also seems unlikely. This seems like somewhere OpenID could be useful... (lack of actual OpenID users aside) you could just pre-seed the approved list with your friends' URLs and then they can just log in when they need it without waiting to be approved. (I have to assume the NAPTR records go away when your contact information isn't public, which also kinda reduces the usefulness of it.)

This service is of course a lot like what does. puts a much more personal, social-networking-kinda spin on it, while .tel seems more aimed at businesses, but the idea is at least similar.


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