Telnic, the .tel registry, wants ICANN to allow it to start taking registrations of purely numeric domain names.
While the company has not submitted a formal request, Telnic CEO Khashayar Mahdavi has asked for numbers-only domains in a separate public comment period.
VeriSign has asked ICANN for the ability to start accepting hyphens and numbers in domain names in the .name TLD, including purely numeric strings such as phone numbers.
Mahdavi, who apparently views .name as a key competitor, wrote in a comment submitted on the VeriSign request:
If ICANN decides to remove this restriction from .name then this change in policy should apply to .tel as well. Approving the release of this restriction on one TLD and leaving it in place for another provides the first with a substantial commercial advantage.
In order to avoid such an unjust result, we respectfully request that, if ICANN decides to approve VeriSign's request to allow all-numeric strings (and strings with combinations of numbers and hyphens) to be registered as domain names in .name, it simultaneously allow Telnic to do the same in .tel.
Telnic's charter, part of its ICANN registry contract, currently states "The .tel registry will not allow numeric-only domains to be registered at the registry level."
I believe the restriction was conceived in order to avoid clashes with the international telephone numbering authorities and the ENUM protocol. Mahdavi wrote:
Telnic believes it is important to avoid conflict with ENUM , so it will continue to forbid the registration of single digit domain names in .tel. Such domain names would be necessary for creating an ENUM tree under .tel, so forbidding them makes a .tel-based ENUM system impossible.
When Telnic originally applied for .tel in 2000, one of the reasons it was rejected was the fact that the International Telecommunications Union wasn't happy with the idea of phone numbers in domain names.