VoIP switchover gains momentum

26 Jul 2005

There are at least 150,000 people in Ireland today with the means to stop paying line rental and switch to voice over internet protocol (VoIP), said Feargal Brady, CEO of up-and-coming VoIP player Blueface, which is attempting to attack this colossal opportunity with a series of innovative unlimited calling packages.

Brady told siliconrepublic.com that individuals accessing cable broadband, using standard DSL, accessing wireless broadband and accessing broadband through the various broadband schemes could, in his opinion, instantly stop paying for traditional line rental of around €25 and opt instead to reduce call costs by using VoIP services, if they so wished.

His company, Blueface, is today launching two new VoIP products that will allow Irish consumers to contain all their call costs within a set fee.

The first product, Ireland/UK Unlimited, priced at €14.99 a month, offers consumers unlimited calls to landlines within Ireland and the UK. All the consumer requires is a broadband connection and an analog terminal adapter available from Blueface for a €40 deposit.

Brady explained individuals that sign up for its service can keep their existing phone number or opt for one of the 076 numbers introduced a year ago by the Commission for Communications Regulation.

“If you’ve got wireless broadband or cable broadband, you can actually use this service to completely replace your Eircom line. You can use any handset,” Brady explained, indicating that the service does not cover calls to mobile operators. Calls beyond the package to the US will cost 1.6 cent per minute and 1.8 cent per minute to Australia.

The second product, entitled Freedom World, offers unlimited calling within Ireland and out to the UK, EU, US, Canada and New Zealand for €24.99. Under this product, Brady pointed out, there are five EU countries not included because of the absence of deregulation in these markets: Malta, Slovenia, Slovakia, Lithuania and Latvia.

Brady said these products are targeted primarily at the consumer marketplace but added that a business product is available offering businesses up to 1,000 minutes a month to 19 different countries for €19.99 (including Vat).

In terms of further VoIP products coming down the line, Brady said the company is trialling the use of an Hitachi Wi-Fi phone that allows people to use the company’s VoIP packages in their own home and continue to make calls from a public Wi-Fi hotspot anywhere in the world. “We are also looking at forthcoming GSM/Wi-Fi phones that can enable people to keep their calls within their home package if they are out and about and happen upon a wireless hotspot.”

Speaking of the opportunity to crack the Irish market for VoIP services Brady said: “It doesn’t matter who your broadband provider is. If it’s DSL broadband you will still be paying line rental, but if you’ve cable or wireless broadband it’s better. In addition, the Government has introduced these regional broadband schemes that have spawned hundreds of regional schemes that are almost all completely wireless. By our estimate there are at least 150,000 people in Ireland today that can stop paying line rental completely and this represents a colossal opportunity for VoIP providers such as Blueface.

“Even with DSL, there are a huge number of people working from home with two or three phone lines; they really just need one DSL broadband connection, they can bring the other two to us and save at least €50 a month on their call costs,” Brady concluded.

By John Kennedy