A. General Description of the Application
- TLD String(s) Requested.
New Services, Telephony-Related.
Telnic Limited’s (“Telnic”) application requests the .tel TLD, with a primary objective of allowing for the identification of voice-enabled Internet devices through the DNS. This type of service is generally not available on the DNS today and qualifies Telnic for the new services category, telephony-related group.
- Sponsor, Registry Operator and Subcontractor.
Telnic is a private limited company registered in England and Whales and operating out of the UK. Telnic was incorporated under the name of Ixtel Limited, formed in April 1998. The company changed its name to Telnic Limited in 1999. Telnic is currently a limited operation focused on the sole objective of making .tel a reality. Telnic, however, claims that most elements necessary to achieve their aim are in place including: (1) a high level business plan, (2) human-resources in place and in-waiting who are experienced and qualified in all necessary fields and (3) sufficient financial resources. CHART has acted as an incubator for Telnic for the past nine months in close relationship with its British investors who have spent three years developing the .tel architecture. CHART is a private investment company based in New York and Dublin.
b. Registry Operator.
CentralNic Limited ("CentralNic") is a private limited company incorporated in England in May 1995 with its principal place of business in London. CentralNic's operations, together with its predecessor company, NomiNation, date back to 1995. In April 2000, CentralNic established itself as an independent global domain name registry committed to making it easier for Internet users to establish new and distinctive domain names with regional and country-specific identities. CentralNic currently has a portfolio of more than 17 domain names available to users world-wide, including eu.com (Europe), uk.com (United Kingdom), us.com (United States), en.com (China) and ru.com (Russia). CentralNic uses the .com and .net standard domain name structure to offer additional regional and country-specific domain names.
- Registry-Registrar Model.
In addition to utilizing existing registrars, Telnic proposes to create its own separate registrar entity which will be an ICANN accredited registrar for the new.tel TLD.
B. Technical Review
- Summary Description of Proposal.
Telnic’s objective is to provide a TLD that would be reserved for voice and video devices that act to some extent, like telephones. This would be a sponsored domain. Four character names will be reserved in the SLD for controlled release as country codes and special purpose names. Country codes within the SLD are expected to have their own registrar. Telnic will also act as a registrar.
- Support of the Business Plan by the Technical Plan.
a. Total Capacity.
The current system is based on various components such as Linux, Perl and MySQL. These tools might be somewhat undersized if demand becomes large. The proposed system appears to be Oracle based. Capacity and load have not been characterized, however, Telnic has made some database sizing projections. Capacity testing of a sector of the current system would be advisable.
b. Projected Growth Rate.
The projected growth rate is about one million names per year for the first few years.
c. Startup Period.
At startup, various business mechanisms will be used to dampen demand. Expected rates of registration are in the range of 5000 to 10,000 registrations per day.
d. Fault Tolerance.
Telnic’s system is based on redundant SRS servers at a single location. Geographical distribution of the SRS function would be desirable if the service becomes modestly popular. Eleven other locations provide distributed support, presumably as name servers.
Basic physical security is in place at all locations. Remote locations are third party sites, built for system hosting. Transmission of information between sites is via VPN links. Off the shelf firewall technology protects the sites. Token based access is used for critical aspects of the system. Overall, the security plan seems to be quite adequate.
- Summary of Relevant Experience.
CentralNic currently provides SLD registration in a country code like structure. They have had about 50,000 names under management since 1995.
- Apparent Implementation Risks.
Currently, Telnic is managing 50,000 SLD names using software developed in-house. Registration is currently web based. To reach the target of a million names under management will require very significant scaling from the current systems and probably the use of registrars.
Because of the very finely granulated nature of the name space, the name server load characteristics may be significantly different from the current load. Caching may not be as effective when individuals are calling other individuals at low frequency rates, but at high aggregate volumes. More load prediction and performance modeling would be useful. From another point of view, it is unclear if the use of the service would ramp up at the same rate that the names might be reserved. Presumably, usefulness of the service depends upon the presence of a significant number of voice enabled systems that could place and answer calls.
The enhanced system envisions the use of a new registry protocol. This protocol is currently under development using XML. Propagation of the new protocol may impact registrant community. Telnic is working closely with the European Internet SLD community on the development of this new protocol. The proposal includes some detail of the protocol indicating that it is moving toward a completed state.
- Available of Human, Operational and Technical Resources to Cope with Unexpected Events.
Telnic has current experience over a five year period with SLD registry operations. It currently has a world-wide network of name servers that it manages with the objective of full time availability. Failure procedures include escalation to higher levels of technical supervision if problems are not fixed within a certain period of time.
- Advancing the State of the Art.
The proposal envisions a new registry protocol with enhanced capabilities. The registry would follow the “thick” model and would store certain Whois information in a centralized format. This approach might improve the availability of Whois information.
This plan would be a type of test bed for a sector of the name space in which the IP addresses would be associated with devices providing a special function, in this case voice (or possibly video and data transfer).
- Other Comments.
It is unclear how current telephones and telephone technology would bridge to the TLD.
C. Business Review
- Applicant’s Representations.
Telnic was created for the purpose of applying for the .tel TLD. Its current operations consist of the TLD application process. Its mission is to create a DNS addressing system for people to “dial” and communicate using any Internet enabled device with speech capability. Telnic has received $1.5 million in funding, with $12 million more pending. Its ongoing revenue source will be subscription-based registration fees.
CentralNic is a domain name registry that offers country-specific third-level-domain names (e.g. yourname.uk.com). Company management also has experience as an Internet service provider. CentralNic’s mission is to become a globally recognized supplier of domain names and a major registrar of the existing standard global domain names. They currently have 19 employees. CentralNic’s revenue for the period ending September 15, 2000 was about £1 million and they had net assets of about £500,000 at that date.
The revenue model initially includes a $14 two-year registration, and then $4 annual renewals. The model will be reconsidered after operational evidence is reviewed. The target market is any IP enabled device.
- ICANN’s Evaluation.
The strengths of this application lie in Telnic’s financing, the large potential market, and experience in registrar operations. The weaknesses relate to the lack of a quantitative market analysis and support of demand assumptions. Overall, there are other applications in this category that are stronger from a business plan perspective.
D. Summary of Public Comments
- Number of Comments.
- Support for the Application.
“At last the opportunity to talk with people all over the world for the cost of a local rate call. This idea is a real difference from the normal .com applications.”
“Superb idea, a global community solution to being uniquely found who ever or what ever or where ever you are. Has nobody other than Mr. Taylor read this application?”
- Opposition to Application.
“ICANN can not give authority to a new TLD to start ‘voice-video-data’ transmission over the Internet. Even if the technology became available a ‘dial’ sort of communication over the Internet is out of ICANN’s territory, PERIOD.”