.Tel is a top-level domain (TLD) that makes it possible to register telephone numbers as domain names on the Internet and to associate those domain names with multiple Internet-based communication services.
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The .tel TLD was originally proposed in 1998 by Telnic, a corporation based in the United Kingdom. Their application to the Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) for .Tel was approved in 2006. According to Khashayar Mahdavi, CEO of Telnic, "The .tel domain offers the first genuinely different use of domains since .com was first created. It will provide seamless integration of existing methods of communication with emerging technologies like VoIP (Voice over IP). This places the .tel domain at the core of the next phase of Internet development."
.Tel applies to text messaging, voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), videoconference activities and all other Internet-based communications. For example, an Internet user wishing to contact a registered user named Jane Doe can input "janedoe.tel" into a communications device to contact her. The domain name resolves to multiple contact formats, including telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, URLs (Uniform Resource Locators), and fax numbers, so users do not have to remember separate details for each.
A TLD identifies the most general part of a domain name and appears as a suffix following the last "dot" in an Internet address. Traditional TLDs are either generic or country-specific. Generic TLDs denote the type of entity or usage, such as "com" for "commercial," "edu" for "educational" or "gov" for "government." Country-specific TLDs denote the country where a Web site or network is located, such as "fr" for France or "is" for Iceland. The .tel domain is not specific to anything or anyone other than the entity who has registered it. The primary users of the new TLD are expected to be individuals and businesses desiring a universal communications identity.