ICANN has approved an application for a new .tel domain, that will hold contact details for companies and individuals. The final contract has yet to be produced, but Telnic, the company that put in the application, is expecting to offer .tel domains by the end of 2006.

"It's a place to look for contact information, and will be a customer managed system," said Khashayar Mahdavi, chief executive of Telnic. Users decide what contact information to put in their .tel domain, and visitors can then click through to phone, web, e-mail or IM contacts.

The .tel contract negotiations are not guaranteed to be successful, but Mahdavi expects to have a contract in three to six months. "It will take another six months 'sunrise period' to start up," he said. "I would expect somewhere in 2006, to meet with our community and develop the .tel domain." After this, .tel domains could be bundled with other communications services.

Telnic's idea is complementary to the .mobi domain, which reached the next stage, signing a contract with ICANN earlier this month. The .mobi domain is intended for content designed for viewing on mobile phones, as a way to boost the mobile content market.

The rival .tel proposal, from VoIP promotoer Jeff Pulver, was rejected last year. Pulver's .tel proposal was to simply make phone numbers - which are already unique - into internet addresses, but it fell foul of conflict with the comparable ENUM scheme, and was heavily criticised by the telecom industry body, the ITU.

ICANN resolved to enter into negotiations with Telnic at a meeting on 28 June, which also approved the finalised contract with .mobi.