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Last Updated: Monday, 11 July, 2005, 11:58 GMT 12:58 UK
Mobiles get net home of their own
Man using mobile
Net sites could soon be friendlier to use on mobile phones
Soon it could be much easier to browse the net on a mobile phone.

Approval for a .mobi domain has been given by the organisation that oversees the net's addressing system.

Websites that use the .mobi domain will be created specifically for mobile devices such as handsets and handheld computers to make them easy to find and browse.

The first websites using the new .mobi domain are expected to appear by late summer next year.

Rick Fant, spokesman for the MTLD, the organisation behind the new domain, said motivation for .mobi came out of the realisation that use of the net on handsets is growing far slower than the rate of overall subscribers for mobiles.

"We know the potential is there because the mobile internet in Japan and South Korea is very prolific," he said.

Handset haven

The problem at the moment, said Mr Fant, is that few websites are designed with mobile users in mind.

Most websites are put together for viewing on a PC at resolutions of 800 by 600 pixels that connects to the net far faster than most mobile phones can do.

GSM Association
To get around this a condition of buying and running a .mobi domain will be adoption of basic standards and templates that ensure a "predictable" experience for phone owners.

The setting up of the .mobi domain would also make it much easier for search engines to find and catalogue sites so users can get at them easily when they go hunting for them. Such websites also need to take into account how people pay for their phone and bandwidth limitations.

"We have to make this discoverable and predictable," said Mr Fant. "You need to have an experience that works on every device."

The MTLD organisation is now hiring staff and setting up the technical infrastructure to support the .mobi domain and aims for a full launch in mid-2006. Initially trademark holders will be given the chance to buy .mobi domains for their names they own.

Generic names such as restaurant.mobi and travel.mobi will be sold off in an auction.

Icann, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which oversees the net's addressing system rubber stamped the .mobi application on 11 July.

In other domain news, the new .eu domain expects to start its sunrise period in the last quarter of 2005. Applications are now being accepted at firms offering .eu domains by companies that want to ensure they get net names for the trademarks they own.

Icann courted controversy in early June when it gave permission for the creation of the .xxx suffix that will become a ghetto for pornographic sites.

Net veteran and former Icann board member Karl Auerbach labelled the .xxx plan "obscene".

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