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

That's a little misleading to my poor brain.  Does that mean "talking in
real time" or "sending a voice message, then getting some kind of reply,
but not necessarily instantly?"

Can anyone clarify, or shall I call TESCO?


--
Carol
carol.pearson@xxxxxxxxxxxx 



-----Original Message-----
From: access-uk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:access-uk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf
Of Derek Hornby
Sent: Friday, January 20, 2006 2:45 PM
To: access-uk
Subject: [access-uk] free phone calls on the net.


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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