The International Telecommunication Union has warned ICANN that numeric .tel domain names, due to be released by Telnic tomorrow, “may confuse customers or cause undue conflicts”.
In a letter to ICANN, Malcolm Johnson, director of the ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, said that there’s a risk that numbers-only .tel name could be confused with the E.164 numbering plan.
Johnson asked ICANN to explain how these numbers will be allocated and used:
ITU must express its concern about TELNIC’s recent announcement launching an “all numeric .tel domains” service from 15 October 2013. This raises a number of policy, legal, and practical implications on the potential usage of all-digit strings, not only under .TEL domain, but also under any future telephony-related new gTLDs
We are seeking this clarification as the digit strings appear similar to telephone numbers and could be used in a manner similar to telephone numbers, which may confuse customers or cause undue conflicts arising from their use.
E.164 is the standard for phone numbers worldwide. The ITU has been angsty about the potential for clashes ever since .tel was first proposed back in 2000.
Indeed, Telnic promised when it applied in 2003 not to allow numbers in .tel, precisely in order to calm these fears.
But when it asked for this self-imposed ban to be lifted in 2010, the ITU didn’t have anything to say (at least, it did not respond to ICANN’s public comment period).
Read Johnson’s letter here (pdf).