March 13, .TEL will become a normal TLD… Or won’t it?

Early 2009, .TEL started out with about 120,000 registrations. In the next year, it grew to a 250,000 and registrations reached their peak in 2011 with about 340,000 registrations. After this, the numbers started to decline rapidly. Currently there are slightly less .TEL names registered then short after the start of the general availability in 2009.

A crippled TLD?

The .TEL was promoted as a platform for publishing contact details online through a dedicated telhosting platform. You might consider it like an online Rolodex. The use of this extension was restricted to this platform. This was of course a limitation for the use of .TEL, no hosting or redirect on your .TEL domain name was possible. The fast market adaptation of smart phones was also unfavorable for the .TEL registration numbers. The telhosting platform lost partially its use, because one could easily dig up a telephone number with their smartphone. And the introduction of a lot of new generics didn’t help either, for obvious reasons.

A revival for .TEL

.tel The ICANN board recently approved of the lifting of the DNS restrictions for .TEL, making it possible to sell your own hosting with a .TEL domain name. This change will become effective on March 31. The same date, the registry will release a modernized Telhosting system. A preview of the new lay-out can be find at the example profile page at http://telpage.tel .
The new Telhosting profile page will be managed by a desktop control panel, also iOS and Android smartphone apps will be introduced to manage the profile page. The Telnic registry will support the registrants. To inform the registrants the registry will send an email to the registrant on February 13.

In short, starting March 31, registrants can choose whether they want to use a single .TEL page or create and host their own web page with a .TEL,

The Good

The Lifting of the DNS restrictions will bring some benefits to our business:

  • A lot of great names are still available for .TEL;
  • New options for the secondary market will arise;
  • With the sale of a .TEL domain you can upsell with a hosting package;
  • Other upsells with products like SSL certificates;
  • Freedom of choice for your customers.

The Bad

Of course, as always, there are some downsides about the changes.

  • You need to adjust your sales flow, but these will become more in line with the other TLDs;
  • You will have to communicate about the new proposition of .TEL.

And the Ugly

About some developments, I am not too excited, and I guess you will probably share this feeling.

The .TEL registry will be directly communicating with the registrants with an email, introducing the new platform. Here is an example of this email. In addition to this, the .TEL registry will do the support for the telhosting environment. This leaves you as the domain name provider out the equation. It might feel a good thing, a cost reduction for you as a web hoster. However, for .TEL it might become harder to demonstrate your added value to your customer.

Also, the proposition of the .TEL might become diffuse for registrants and website visitor. For the registrants, it could be unclear what the use for .TEL is. And for the website visitor, it might become unclear who is responsible for the hosting of a TEL site. My suggestion is, it is best to promote .TEL as a standard extension. It is short, about telephone communication and with lots of good names still available. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the new telhosting platform will be phased out after just a few years.

Finally

Despite my issues above, I am happy about the revitalization of .TEL. For the web hosting industry, there are a lot of opportunities with this extension. It is up to you to seize them and make .TEL (again) a nice addition to your business!