The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has approved a new top-level domain suffixed ".tel," awarding a contract to British company, Telnic.

ICANN's board made the decision last Tuesday, said Andrew Robertson, a spokesman for the organisation but it was overshadowed by ICANN's rejection at the same meeting of the .xxx domain name.

Telnic, which applied for the domain in October 2000, says it envisages creating a universal text and navigation system for contact information over the Internet. Mobile device users could communicate and access the services of organisations or individuals with .tel domain names.

In its application to ICANN, Telnic said the traditional numbering system has reached a threshold, and the new domain will aid migration to a communications network based on IP. The .tel domain will be a unified location to find contact information and foster converged fixed-line and wireless services, Telnic said.

Another applicant for the new domain, NetNumber, withdrew its application from ICANN.

On its website, Telnic offered an example of how the new domain could aid someone trying to reach the Hertz car rental service. A user would type on their mobile phone and be connected to a customer service representative for the local area.

Private individuals could list contact information such as VoIP dialling details or their instant messaging name, Telnic said.

Details of Telnic's contract with ICANN or the price of a .tel domain name were not immediately available.