Telecom won't match free trans-Tasman phone calls

CallPlus says it will launch its free calls offer next week

Telecom says it has no immediate plans to match free trans-Tasman calls announced by two smaller telcos this week.

People Telecom of Australia and local telco CallPlus say their subscribers will be able to talk to each other at no charge. The announcement came on the heels of People Telecom listing on the New Zealand Stock Exchange.

According to CallPlus founder Malcolm Dick, the free calling will be for CallPlus and its ISP Slingshot customers who use the provider’s iTalk Voice over IP (VoIP) service. On the other side of the Tasman, People Telecom and customers of its ISP arm, SwiftDSL, will use the SwiftVoiceIP service, which is equivalent to iTalk.

In fact, SwiftVoiceIP uses phone technology developed by CallPlus. Until recently, CallPlus founder Malcolm Dick sat on the board of People Telecom and he remains a shareholder of the company together with partner Annette Presley. Presley says CallPlus has delivered 2,000 SIP (session initiation protocol) phones to People Telecom.

However, frequent trans-Tasman callers can't immediately sign up; Presley says CallPlus' iTalk VoIP service isn’t actually launched yet, with only about 50 triallists currently using it. The iTalk service is scheduled to launch on Monday, she says.

People Telecom chief executive officer Ryan O’Hare was in Auckland for the stock exchange listing and says the telco has some 28,000 customers in Australia, with about 1,500 of them using the VoIP service.

Telecom says it welcomes the competition but doesn't plan to match the offer. Pam Wong, Telecom's spokeswoman for consumer affairs, says the telco already has some very good deals including 19c-per-minute and $3 capped calls to Australia and doesn't feel the need to immediately match the CallPlus deal.

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