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Could .NAME be the Killer App ENUM is Waiting For?

I’m in the camp that ICANN Top-Level Domains (TLDs) are businesses that should be allowed to evolve from their original charter to increase their viability in the marketplace.

It was announced today that VeriSign is proposing to allow telephone numbers and other numeric identifiers in the .NAME top-level domain.

This could be the Killer App that ENUM has been waiting for.

VeriSign’s proposal says domains will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. If true, I wonder if this is missing a larger opportunity?

Why not require that the registrant demonstrate that the telephone number they are requesting is actually under their control?

For example, EnCirca has had the same business land-line telephone number for over 12 years now. Shouldn’t we be the only one eligible to register it as a .NAME?

For this to work, there would need to be a validation check during the registration process that the registrant of the numeric .NAME domain was in control of the corresponding telephone number. This is a fairly simply call-back technology that is already in wide commercial use.

ENUM is a set of protocols designed to unify the telephone system with the internet. The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standards body has been working on it for over ten years.

EnCirca was one of the participants of an ENUM trial a few years ago. ENUM domain names are not pretty. For example, during the trial, “.arpa” was used as the testbed TLD. Our business telephone number +1 (781) 942-9975 corresponded to the following domain name: 9975.942.781.1.arpa. Now that is a domain that only a computer protocol could love!

But with .NAME, there is the opportunity to add a more user-friendly layer on top of the ENUM naming convention. For example, EnCirca’s business telephone number could have the domain 1-781-942-9975.NAME (The hyphen after the country code is necessary for it to work globally). It is then trivial to map this to the ENUM-based domain of 9975.942.781.1.arpa.

With this type of marriage between the telephone system protocols and the DNS, the numeric .NAME domain has the potential of much more than a mere domain name. For many individuals and businesses, the telephone number is the one constant identifier versus to postal address or email address. Imagine if Skype had its own TLD and you start to understand even more possibilities.

Of course, I imagine there will be those who are purists or feel threatened with this type of innovation. They might balk at the thought of private companies doing this instead of regulatory agencies. Some will say that TLD’s should not be allowed to evolve from their original charter. And some will oppose anything that VeriSign tries to do.

But this seems like it could be an innovation that consumers and businesses alike would embrace. And that is all that really matters, right? ... right?

Now tell me why you disagree.

By Thomas Barrett, President - EnCirca, Inc

Filed Under


This is useful how? The Famous Brett Watson  –  Sep 18, 2010 4:48 AM

I’d love to disagree, but I first require some vague idea as to how domain names based on telephone numbers are useful. I’ve glanced in the general direction of the ENUM concept from time to time, but it has always struck me as a solution without a problem. Your suggestion here seems like an attempt to improve the solution (by offering a more aesthetically pleasing representation of the data), but the problem remains unspecified. Your focus on the visual appearance of the name suggests that a user will type it directly somewhere that any domain name might be entered—presumably in a web browser—but what are you expecting to achieve?

how about registering IP addresses.NAME ? Yves Goulnik  –  Sep 18, 2010 7:57 AM

I could also imagine a telco bidding for a new TLD and offering some kind of additional service to subscribers, witb . But even the most basic phones now have contact lists, let alone VoIP apps. How often do you have to key in phone numbers, and how convenient would this be to enter in a browser? I agree with the previous reply, what exactly is the need?

oops... Yves Goulnik  –  Sep 18, 2010 8:01 AM

I could also imagine a telco bidding for a new TLD and offering some kind of additional service to subscribers, with the likes of <number>.<telco> Except that domain names are supposed to avoid the user of numbers in IP addresses, why would we want to bring them back in with phone numbers?

President of what? Yves Goulnik  –  Sep 18, 2010 6:33 AM

Out of curiosity, what is the author the president of?

EnCirca The Famous Brett Watson  –  Sep 18, 2010 7:18 AM

He's "President and Founder of domain name Registrar: EnCirca, Inc." [Source: LinkedIn]

Circleid profile updated Thomas Barrett  –  Sep 18, 2010 12:22 PM

FYI. I added company name to the "title" field. Tom Barrett EnCirca

Oh, please John Levine  –  Sep 18, 2010 5:42 PM

I’m in the camp that ICANN Top-Level Domains (TLDs) are businesses that should be allowed to evolve from their original charter to increase their viability in the marketplace.

I’m in the camp that it’s not ICANN’s job to enable everyone’s random land grabs, inventing bogus IP claims on random strings.  My house’s address is 24, so shouldn’t I have first dibs on 24.NAME ?

If anyone wants ENUM and .TEL, they know where to find it.

John,Could you elaborate? what do you Thomas Barrett  –  Sep 18, 2010 10:39 PM

John, Could you elaborate? what do you mean by "random land grabs and investing bogus IP claims" What is wrong with opening up previously inaccessible namespace? Who exactly is harmed? How is this different from when ccTLD's like .us and .cn decided to open up their second level namespace? Were those land grabs too?

Random land grabs John Levine  –  Sep 21, 2010 2:03 AM

Hmmn. I'd think it was pretty obvious that I was referring to IP claims on numbers. I don't much care whether TLDs offer numeric 2LDs, e.g. the famous email address [email protected], but I have no sympathy to people who claim that they have a prior right to them.

This Numbering could also be implemented by other registries Virendra Gandhi  –  Sep 19, 2010 2:37 AM

Actually Verisign could possibly been working on such approaches since quite some time. I believe it could be, because they too feel that the present system is not good enough. With .Name they are falling in the same Namespace trap that was created at the beginning. They are not thinking of working out of the box. Here my suggestion is why not open up .com (and retain its value) for this instead .Name? Heck this numbering Namespace could also be implemented by other registries, why just VeriSign?
Thomas Barrett I think you are underestimating the pitfalls with your telephone numbering method. Consider this, the present population of the world is six billion add to that add to that all the businesses and services, now if you create space for all these it the space required would be at least in Petabytes last I heard was that space required for Facebook is 500 Terabytes. The telephone numbers will also be exhausted at one time and what about the situation after 25 years. Not to mention that the number would be very long after some time (like ICQ). And what about Cloud Computing your numbering should also consider that, without all this, yours would only be a stop gap arrangement, if at all people go for it.
And as Goulnik put it, would telephone companies agree to the verification? Sure they may themselves would like to go into this business and have their own revenue model.
To the famous Brett Watson and Goulnik, the need is to make the net universally accessible one on one. Here Thomas Barrett is trying to solve the Namespace problem.
Whatever disagreements you could face, could be because people have got comfortable with the present system, which is flawed and needs to be changed

Namespace problem? The Famous Brett Watson  –  Sep 19, 2010 3:05 AM

To the famous Brett Watson and Goulnik, the need is to make the net universally accessible one on one. Here Thomas Barrett is trying to solve the Namespace problem.
Universally accessible one on one? Namespace problem? I don't understand this explanation at all. What is the namespace problem, and what does it have to do with universal accessibility, one-on-one or otherwise?

Here is a better solution JC  –  Sep 21, 2010 7:56 PM

Better yet - update the browser and/or DNS so that I can enter a phone number directly in the address bar - you don’t need to add a tld extension to a phone number because phone numbers are already a fully defined address space.  If I wanted to call or text EnCirca, I would just enter the number +1 (781) 942-9975 in the browser address bar.  The system would resolve the number, determine the carrier, and route the call or text via the appropriate protocol.

Phone numbers as URLs Daniel R. Tobias  –  Sep 21, 2010 11:41 PM

There's actually a "tel:" URI scheme for precisely this purpose. There's no need to reinvent the wheel by coming up with any other system for turning phone numbers to URLs.

Sheesh John Levine  –  Sep 21, 2010 10:39 PM

I have great news for you—you don’t have to wait, you can do that right now.  Just install any softphone on your computer, or Skype.  Or for that matter, there’s probably a device on your desk with a handset that will do the same thing, since office PBXes have been routing calls via IP for years.

Why in the would would you want your browser to be a lousy phone, when you can use a real phone instead?

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