Mobile Web pages get their own domain

Mobile Internet services will soon be dealt from a .mobi deck

Web pages specifically designed for mobile phone users will soon have their own domain — .mobi.

ICANN which runs the Internet's top-level domain name system, approved the creation of .mobi at a meeting in Luxemburg on Monday.

Although ICANN has approved the creation of .mobi, the domain will be run and promoted by a new organisation called mTLD

The mobile phone industry has been lobbying for its own top-level domain for companies to offer content intended to be viewed on a mobile device.

"We have to make this discoverable and predictable," Rick Fant, mTLD spokesman and MSN's director of mobile services, told BBC Online. "You need to have an experience that works on every device."

The first .mobi domains are likely to go on sale in the first half of 2006. Any company buying the use of a .mobi domain will have to make its content conform to a series of guidelines produced by mTLD. These are meant to ensure that .mobi sites are effective when viewed on a mobile phone screen, including designs that take account of download speeds and users who pay per megabyte of data downloaded.

There has been scepticism in the industry about whether mobile Web users will actually embrace such a domain, following the slower than expected take-up of WAP pages as a means of delivering Internet-based information. But mTLD has pointed to the success of mobile services such as i-mode in Asia.

Many major players in the mobile phone industry have backed the creation of .mobi, including the GSM Association, Nokia, Microsoft, T-Mobile and Vodafone.