Go Daddy has objected to Telnic's plan to start selling numeric .tel domain names, saying that it, among other things, "smells a lot like gaming".
Telnic applied to ICANN last month to revise its registry contract to enable it to start selling domains containing numbers and hyphens.
I speculated a month ago that the International Telecommunications Union might object to the proposal, for reasons I explained in some depth.
(Briefly, Telnic won the .tel sponsored TLD partly because it promised for years not to enable domains that could look like phone numbers.)
But the ITU had nothing to say, at least in terms of the ICANN public comment period.
Go Daddy's Tim Ruiz did object last Saturday on related grounds, telling ICANN:
We believe that this request cannot be granted without requiring the rebidding of the .tel sTLD itself. It is unfair to other applicants and potential applicants to allow an sTLD to change its purpose after the fact.
Since community, purpose, and use were such important aspects of the sTLD allocation decisions it seems inappropriate, fundamentally unfair, and even smells a lot like gaming, to allow an sTLD to change those aspects without an opportunity for others to bid competitively.
In response to Ruiz's letter, Telnic chief executive Khashayar Mahdavi wrote to ICANN:
The restriction on all-numeric strings has nothing to do with the nature of .tel and was instead a measure put in place to address initial concerns about potential conflicts with ENUM… We believe time and the growing understanding of the .tel technology have proven such a conflict does not exist.
ENUM is a protocol for addressing voice services using the DNS. It uses dots between each individual digit of a phone number, which would be specifically disallowed under Telnic's plans.
Mahdavi also expressed confusion as to why Go Daddy bothered to object – it is not currently a registry, it does not carry .tel domains and it will presumably not be affected by the relaxation of the .tel rules.
Is it possible the registrar is taking a principled stance?
Ruiz also noted:
We believe that certain other recent requests under the guise of the RSEP [Registry Services Evaluation Process] by sTLDs were also likely inappropriate for similar reasons
The Telnic proposal has already passed ICANN's staff evaluation. I expect it could come before the board next month at its Cartagena meeting.
In separate news, Telnic's less-controversial proposal to start selling one and two-character .tel domains has now passed its ICANN evaluation (pdf).