[access-uk] Re: free phone calls on the net.

An interesting post Derek, and in a way it ties in with my post of a few 
minutes ago aimed at Billy.

Could be worth taking a closer look.  What I want to know is whether it depends 
on using a computer, or whether a hardware option is usable for when the PC 
isn't turned on.  Shall have to go and see.
Ray

Personal emails:  Email me at
mailto:ray-48@xxxxxxxx

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Derek Hornby" <derek.hornby_uk@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>


| Hi all,
| The following (which may be of interest to some of you) was in The
| Times 20 January 2006
| 
| 
| TESCO, Britain's biggest retailer, is to shake up Britain's phone
| market with a revolutionary service that allows users to make free
| calls over the internet.
| 
| The supermarket wants to challenge the dominance of BT by encouraging
| people to swap their traditional landlines for the net service, which
| allows users to make free calls to anywhere in the world. The
| product, which works by converting voice into data and sending it
| over the internet like an e-mail, will be available off the shelf
| from Tesco stores from today. All consumers need is a broadband
| internet connection.
| 
| Tesco is not the first to offer this kind of service; several market
| players, including Skype and Vonage, already have it. BT has also
| offered a similar service for a while, but until recently it has been
| reluctant to promote it for fear of undermining its traditional
| sources of revenue.
| 
| Experts said that, compared with rival services, the Tesco tariff was
| not fiercely competitive: although calls between users within Britain
| and internationally are free, calls to regular landlines are charged
| at 2p a minute and calls to mobile networks at 10p a minute. Other
| providers charge an upfront fee with an all-inclusive calls package.
| 
| The Tesco service, which will initially be available in 350 stores,
| also requires a user's PC to be switched on, which some rival
| services, including BT's, do not.
| 
| However, analysts said that Tesco, with its huge network of stores
| and access to millions of customers, was well positioned to take the
| niche technology mainstream. Blair Wadman, an analyst at Uswitch, the
| call-price comparison service, said: "Though the tariff is not
| fiercely competitive with other broadband services, it is competitive
| with regular landline services, and this is really all about its
| retail presence which gives it the ability to make this service mass-
| market."
| 
| Andy Dewhurst, head of Tesco's telecommunications arm, said that the
| service was more appealing than others on the market because it was
| more consumer friendly.
| 
| "With our service there is no upfront contract as with some of the
| others, and you do not have to go into any internet site to start
| downloading the necessary software, as you do with others."
| 
| Services such as those offered by Skype, which pioneered the
| technology, he said, were appealing only to "one tecchie person
| phoning his techie mate in Silicon Valley", and not to regular
| consumers. Tesco, he said, could make the service a practical reality
| for British households.
| 
| A spokesman for Skype challenged that claim: "It doesn't get much
| easier than with us. If you can enter a website and click on a link
| then you are there."
| 
| Internet phone services have also proved beyond doubt the appetite
| for such technology: since Skype was launched in April 2003 it has
| had break-neck growth.
| 
| More than 47 million people now use the service.
| 
| Although internet calls are considered old hat in America and Japan,
| Britain has lagged behind in taking up the technology because of the
| slow growth in "always-on" broadband connections.
| 
| However, broadband has taken off and recently overtook dial-up
| access. Broadband penetration is at 34 per cent of households and
| research from Ofcom, the telecoms watchdog, found that 40 per cent of
| broadband users now have voice or chat applications.
| 
| Critics of the new technology complain about the quality of the
| calls, which can suffer because they travel over the internet rather
| than a maintained network. The service is also only as reliable as
| the connection -if that goes down then calls cannot be made. With
| many services, users have to be seated at their PC, sometimes with
| the added inconvenience of wearing a headset.
| 
| The basic cost of making calls across the internet is almost nil. The
| real cost is in developing software, after which the service exploits
| available internet capacity. However, charging is necessary to link
| internet calls with the traditional phone network.
| 
| Tesco, which entered the telecoms market two years ago, offers a
| mobile-phone service that uses the O2 network and fixed-line service
| that uses the network of Cable & Wireless.
| 
| While the supermarket group has trumpeted its success in the mobile
| market, where it has more than a million customers, it refuses to say
| how many landline customers it has. Analysts have speculated that the
| service has failed to take off, although Tesco denies this.
| 
|

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