DEMOfall 08: Telnic shows how .tel domains can communicate without web sites

Mere mortals who aren’t technically inclined do not need to know how Telnic‘s new .tel service works. We can just think about the benefits. Basically, without using a web site, you can now list your information on the Internet so that people can contact you directly. It’s the mother of all telephone books.

Using a new kind of Internet domain name dubbed .tel, the service allows you to embed your contact information in an Internet address book known as a DNS server (domain name server). You can then direct people to your contact info with a simple moniker, such as justin.tel. Using your phone or a web browser, you can look up that person’s contact information, related web links, and keywords. In spite of the recent DNS server hacks, Justin Hayward of Telnic says it is secure.

You can contact the person but also learn where that person is, if the person wants you to know. This service is far from intuitive, but it comes from a deep understanding of how the Internet works and it may very well be one of the most innovative ideas for improving communications. Beyond contacts, you can use the .tel database to navigate through hotels and location-based services. You can, for instance, use .tel to find a hotel. Once you get there, you can see how close some of your friends are by looking at their .tel data.

Anyone who makes a living providing you with contacts is a competitor, including social networks such as Linkedin and Facebook as well as online phone books such as the Yellow Pages. Investors include angel Juan Villalonga and institutions including Banexi Ventures and Berggruen Holdings.

The .tel domain was approved by the Internet governing body ICANN in 2006. It doesn’t host web sites but directly links domain names with contact information stored in the Internet’s infrastructure. The company showed a plug-in for the BlackBerry which lets you import .tel data into a phone.

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