Description of TLD Policies
I. General TLD Policies
An Executive Summary, which provides an overview of our proposal is attached to this document.
E2. TLD String.
A complete address would consist of a unique telephone number followed by “.tel.” Throughout the world, the naming convention would be based on the numbering system used by international callers. The secondary domain name would begin with the international country code, followed by a hyphen, followed by the unique in-country number assigned by the national telephone system.
For example, complete domain names for users with telephone numbers in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean Islands would consist of 12 characters: the country code (1), followed by a hyphen, followed by the area code (three digits) and a seven-digit number, followed by .tel. In other parts of the world, the address would consist of a one, two or three digit country code, followed by a hyphen, followed by the number assigned by the national telephone system, followed by .tel. If countries use an area code or city code, these numbers would be included in the complete address. Some examples are shown in the Table below.
Washington, D.C. United States 1-202-637-2200 1-2026372200.tel
Toronto Canada 1-416-535-0123 1-4165350123.tel
London United Kingdom 44-20-7710-1000 44-2077101000.tel
Moscow Russia 7-501-785-1234 7-5017851234.tel
Singapore Singapore 65-536-1161 65-5361161.tel
Tokyo Japan 81-3-3423-3970 81-334233970.tel
E3. Naming Conventions
See E2. There will be no sub-domains.
We will enter into licensing and distribution agreements only with ICANN-accredited registrars and we will deal with all ICANN-accredited registrars. We may identify other reliable, low-cost registration channels among companies that deal with consumers on a monthly basis and verify their telephone numbers as part of their ordinary business. In these cases, we may encourage these companies to seek ICANN accreditation as registrars. Number.tel will not engage in registrar activities itself. Tucows International Corp. will serve as the registry operator for all registrations.
All applicants for registration would certify that they are applying for a secondary domain name that corresponds to a telephone number assigned to them by a national telephone system. They would also make this certification when renewing the registration on an annual or biannual basis. A random sample of applications will be checked through a variety of verification mechanisms, e.g., by calling the applicant, contacting the appropriate local exchange carrier, or contacting the national telephone system. All applicants would be required to submit complete Whois information, which would be stored in the central database. An applicant with an unlisted telephone number could still seek a corresponding domain name, but such applicants would still be required to submit complete Whois information. A bad faith attempt to register a domain name that did not correspond to an assigned telephone number would be referred to the appropriate ICANN dispute resolution procedure. We anticipate minimal dispute resolution issues caused by applicants attempting to register domain names that do no correspond to their assigned number.
Applicants would be required to certify that they will inform the registrar when they change telephone numbers. The registrar would forward this information to the registry operator for cancellation of the registration. In the event that the user wants to retain the domain name for a short time, e.g., a 90-day period, he or she could do as long as the telephone number is not assigned to someone else.
We anticipate that individuals would sometimes not inform the registrar when they disconnect telephone numbers. There would be sample audits of domain names to ensure that they corresponded to an assigned number. However, in the event that the user does not inform the registrar of a disconnected number and incorrect domain names are not detected with an audit, there will be cases when a domain name remains assigned to an individual based on out-of-date number. In those cases, there would typically be no conflict with another potential user of the name until another applicant attempted to register that same domain name. In that case, the owner of the domain name would be contacted using the Whois information. If the Whois information is not correct, the registration would be cancelled and the applicant would be assigned the number. Overall, we anticipate minimal dispute resolution issues. Eventually, agreements with national telephone systems and the managers of telephone number databases would reduce the verification costs even further.
E7. Data Privacy, Escrow, and Whois
All applicants for registrations would be required to furnish complete Whois information, regardless of whether their phone number is unlisted. Data privacy, escrow and Whois policies would be consistent with the current ICANN-NCI Registry Agreement. Whois information would be kept in the centralized database.
E8. Billing and Collection
Billing and collections from users would be the responsibility of registrars who would be bound by the ICANN accreditation agreement. Billing and collection from registrars would be based on contracts consistent with the current NSI-Registrar License Agreement. The registry operator may engage in billing and collections for Number.tel.
E9. Services and Pricing
Number.tel will charge registrars on an annual or multi-year basis. For the first three years, the maximum annual fee charged to registrars will be $6.00 per domain name per year. Thereafter, the maximum annual fee will be determined by the TOB. We anticipate that Number.tel will be responsive to market conditions and charge prices that provide vigorous competition with other TLDs.
II. REGISTRATION POLICIES DURING THE START-UP PERIOD
We do not anticipate any significant rush for registration based on the fact that domain names are assigned based on the applicants’ telephone numbers. We do not anticipate placing any limitations on registrars. There will be no “sunrise” period for advance registrations.
III. REGISTRATION RESTRICTIONS
See the Executive Summary, which is attached to this document.
IV. CONTEXT OF THE TLD WITHIN THE DNS
The use of an existing, assigned telephone number, followed by “.tel”, as a domain name provides a number of substantial advantages:
See also the Executive Summary, which is attached to this document, and the Business Plan Summary, Attachment 7 to the Sponsoring Organization’s Proposal.
Our proposal is based on a number of concepts, which can be evaluated if our proposed TLD is recognized. We discuss the major ones below.
E29.1. Letter-based versus number-based systems. After some initial debate, the Internet community opted to use a word-based system for domain names. That approach has been popular with many user communities and has promoted widespread use of the Internet in many parts of the world. In many cases, it has led to an easily understandable system, which reduces search costs for consumers. Thousands of times every day, consumers simply type a familiar corporate name, followed by “.com” in order to find a website.
However, it has also created a number of significant impediments. First, most Internet users today do not use English as their native language, and the proportion of non-English speakers using the Internet will increase dramatically over the next decade. While Latin alphabetic characters have become commonplace throughout the world, it is important to recognize that much of the world uses languages that are not based on these characters. A number-based system instantly internationalizes the domain name system in a way that word-bases systems cannot do.
A second limitation on word-based systems is the increasing difficulty of finding domain names that bear an understandable and logical relationship to the domain name owner. Adding TLDs will expand the potential number of domain names. However, simply providing new TLDs will not necessarily address the uniqueness problem since there are already dozens of little used ccTLDs that are now available. A number-based system creates the opportunity for hundreds of millions of new domain names that can are readily understandable to users over the world.
There are several possible number-based systems. However, any number-based system should meet certain basic requirements. First, like word-based systems, a number-based domain name system should bear a logical and understandable relationship to the domain name owner. Second, the search costs associated with the system should be modest. Third, the domain names should be easy to communicate to the public and relatively easy for consumers to record and remember. Finally, a word-based system should not require relinquishing significant privacy interests. The only internationally recognizable number-based system that meets this requirement is the telephone number.
E29.2. Eliminating the buying and selling of domain names. The current system of Internet domain names has spawned an unintended and unanticipated market in the buying and selling of domain names. It has become common for individuals and companies to register dozens or even hundreds of names with no intention to use them, but for the purpose of selling them to an eventual. If these market incentives inspired creative efforts and technological improvements, as in the case of patented products and processes, these incentives might be viewed as beneficial to economic productivity. Most patents are developed by individuals who do not actually use the patented invention. However, the identification of domain names has largely become a race for registration rather than a spur to creativity. The resources required to buy a domain name from someone who registered it on a speculative basis are simply transferred from the eventual user to the first registrant. In addition, resources are wasted in the transaction costs associated with these efforts.
Consequently, we believe it is important to evaluate an approach of limiting domain names to persons who are already uniquely associated with the particular name. Under our proposal, only an individual, business or organization to which a telephone number is already assigned by a national telephone system can register it. If the assignee of these numbers chooses not to register it, it remains unused. There will be no buying or selling of these domain names.
E29.3. Developing New Channels of Registration
We will deal only with ICANN-accredited registrars. In some cases, we believe that new, more efficient means of registering individual consumers can be found. For example, institutions that routinely verify individual telephone numbers and bill consumers on a monthly basis, such as the telephone companies themselves and financial institutions, can potentially serve as registrars for our proposed TLD for a modest fee. In these cases, we may assist these companies in applying for accreditation. We believe that our proposal offers the opportunity to evaluate whether these alternative registration channels can significantly reduce costs for consumers.
E29.4. Creating Private Entity-Non-Profit Partnership
The structure we propose calls for a creative partnership between a for-profit entity and non-profit entity that represents the interests of the user community. Our proposal would give significant oversight responsibility to the TOB and allocate a significant share of revenue to it as well. We believe that the implementation of this concept will provide useful information about the workability of such a model in other contexts.
The TOB, which is structured to be responsive to the needs of the user community, will oversee the implementation of the TLD. Consequently, the TOB would have the primary responsibility of evaluating the results of its introduction. Although the TOB would develop its own criteria, we assume the major criteria would be the following: 1) the number of users who register domain names using the new TLD; 2) the number of users from parts of the world where Internet use and domain name registration have been relatively low; 3) user satisfaction as gauged by consumer complaints, feedback at conferences, etc.; 4) the effect on overall registration and related transaction costs for consumers; 5) the extent of intellectual property or other disputes that require resolution and the costs of resolving these disputes; and 6) the overall acceptance and understanding of the TLD by users and consumers.
We believe it is possible to create a DNS system that is more accessible to users throughout the world and reduces costs to users and consumers. Implementation of this TLD will provide useful information about the management of the DNS system, particularly with regard to the issues described in E29. above. In particular, we believe implementation will provide useful information about number-based systems, including expanding the concept of domain names based on telephone numbers.
After some experience with a “.tel” TLD, it may be appropriate to consider assigning Number.tel an additional TLD – “.000” -- to be used as the suffix for a telephone number-based system. We believe this domain name system would be popular in countries such as China where most Internet users do not speak English or other European languages. This would demonstrate a sensitivity by ICANN to these rapidly growing communities, as well as also giving ICANN an opportunity to evaluate the simultaneous use of a Latin alphabet-based TLD and an analogous number-based TLD.
 Most international calls placed from the United States require that 011 precede the listed number. This prefix would not be necessary under this system.
 In some cases, there may be multiple assignees of a single telephone number, who would have to agree among themselves as to which of these assignees had the right to register it as a domain name. In other cases, there a market may develop in the assignment of telephone numbers themselves. We believe both these situations will be rare because of typical policies of national telephone systems. In any event, these unusual cases will not disrupt the stability or workability of the system we propose.