VoIP accessible to Joe Public

VoIP accessible to Joe Public

SELF-described market agitator Slingshot is turning up the heat on Telecom with its voice over IP (VoIP) service iTalk.

The junior telco and ISP has partnered with Dick Smith Electronics to sell a plug-and-play VoIP phone.

Annette Presley, Slingshot CEO, says the quality of VoIP calls is already better than on a mobile network, although not yet as good as a fixed line.

Slingshot’s iTalk service bundles phone hardware with free local and on-net calls and a local number for incoming calls.

Presley says any calls that bypass the public network are free of per-minute charges, while calls that originate on the iTalk network but terminate on a traditional phone benefit from heavily discounted rates.

“We’re here to push the boundaries. People want to save money — who can compete with free calls or tolls for five cents a minute?”

Dick Smith Electronics is selling the phone bundled with a Slingshot connection pack for $98.

James Cunnold, Dick Smith Electronics’ merchandising manager, says this is the retailer’s first venture into the VoIP market, but adds that it sits well with the company’s existing range of ADSL products.

“The launch of VoIP reinforces the company’s philosophy of delivering leading-edge technology to the market first,” he says.

He admits that while there has been interest from early adopters, educating the wider public about the benefits of VoIP could be harder.

“It will be on the front page of the mailer that goes to about 800,000 households and we’ve tried to explain the technology as best we can.”

Presley is excited about the future of the iTalk service and hopes it will be as successful as Slingshot’s ISP division, which has over 100,000 customers.

“With the move to VoIP, traditional toll services, calls and charging will become a thing of the past. Plus, this company is not afraid to take risks.”

She remains unconcerned about Telecom NZ’s plans to launch a residential trial of its own VoIP service.

“Telecom’s a bit late to the game.”

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