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Internet-based voice services set to rocket

Internet-based voice services set to rocket

The UK's telephony industry faces even more competition today following the launch of Gossiptel, a new Internet-based voice service. The latest entrant into the increasingly crowded Internet telephony sector, Gossiptel makes use of broadband to offer cut-price local, national, international and mobile calls for no monthly line rental.

Hoping to capitalise on the growth of broadband Internet usage, the Gossiptel service uses technology - known as voice over Internet protocol or VoIP - to convert voice calls so they can be sent over the Internet at a fraction of the price of traditional calls.

Broadband Internet users - regardless of who provides their service - can download the Gossiptel software and make cheap phone calls from a new number either through their PC or by plugging an adaptor into their existing phone.

Customers can call mobile phones from 3.9p per minute at weekends, other fixed line networks such as BT from 1p per minute and 22 countries - including the US and Australia - from 2.5p per minute.

Plus, wherever they are in the world, calls to other customers using Gossiptel or similar Internet phone services are free - as long as they use the industry-standard SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) technology.

Although there are no upfront or monthly charges, customers can buy an adaptor for £94, which will enable them to use their existing handset to make VoB calls. Gossiptel is also offering a handset for £117.49.

Gossiptel reckon Voice over Broadband (VoB) is set to "rocket" over the next 18 months as more and more people hook up to broadband in the UK.

Co-founder Kim Thesiger said: "It really wasn't that long ago that a minority of us had email, but now almost everyone has an email address.”

"There are now something like four million broadband Internet users in the UK so we have a real mass market of people who can make high quality voice calls over the Internet. If you have already got broadband you can get an extra phone line for no cost at all."

According to Juniper Research, Internet telephony will make up 12 per cent of all telephony revenues in five years time as the VoB market generates contributes $32 billion, out of a total telephony market worth approximately $260 billion, by 2009.

BT has already launched a VoIP service designed to grab telephony customers away from cable companies NTL and Telewest. In July it will offer a mass market VoIP product called BT Communicator aimed at everyone else.

Wanadoo has also expressed a desire to move into the voice calls market and is expected to make an announcement about the subject within weeks.

Sources: Guardian Unlimited, The Register, ZDNet

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