U.K.-based online registry owner Telnic, which licenses the .tel top level domain (TLD) from ICANN, this week said one of its long-term ambitions is to enable mobile operators to connect their customers via the cheapest possible method available, whether that be VoIP, SMS, or a standard voice call.

"Imagine how you would feel as a customer if your mobile operator knew that you and the person you were trying to contact both had Skype accounts, and suggested that you initiate a Skype-to-Skype call as the lowest-cost way of connecting," said Justin Hayward, business development director at Telnic. "It would make services a lot stickier, and build a lot of loyalty."

The realisation of that concept might not be that far off. Telnic offers a service that enables users to register their own .tel URL for $10 per year and, using a simple browser-based back end, store and manage up to 300,000 pieces of contact information, including phone numbers, social networking profiles, and email addresses. It also allows users to set up and switch between a number of different profiles, allowing them to quickly adjust their viewable contact information should their location or preferences change. Their location can also be stored via an integrated Google Maps widget.

The whole service does not use any proprietary software or standards, and because it is entirely Web-based it does not require mobile users to import their contact information onto their handset, and therefore it can be accessed via any connected device with a browser.

"We are moving towards enabling people to dial a name and not a number," said Hayward. "The ultimate goal is to enable phones to dial a .tel [address] and offer customers a choice of how to connect to someone."

Telnic was formed in 2000, but did not sell its first .tel address until December 2008.

"It took six-and-a-half years to get the domain name licence from ICANN," said Hayward. "We've been described as the longest start-up in history."

It now has around 300,000 .tel addresses registered in 16 different languages, spread across 191 countries.

Hayward said Telnic is not attempting to replace traditional Websites, but aims to make it simpler for people to establish their own online presence without the need to sign up to a social network.

"There are 220 million registered domains in a world with six billion people," he said. "There has got to be something stopping them [from registering] – cost and technological knowledge."