Clear woos free ISP customers to voice

Clear's Zfree add-on is a no-frills tolls service, charged in 15-minute periods, 24 hours a day.

Clear's Zfree add-on is a no-frills tolls service, charged in 15-minute periods, 24 hours a day.

Clear joins both Ihug and Xtra in offering distance calling benefits as either a bundle or an option with Internet service. It also looks to be trying to woo some of the nearly 200,000 New Zealanders who have signed up for free Internet service via Zfree into other, paid services from Clear.

The company's chief executive Peter Kaliaropoulos sought in announcing the new "Z brand" this morning to draw parallels between Ztalk and Zfree,

"Zfree has been an incredibly successful brand for us, and we're looking to build on that success," said Kaliaropoulos. "There are a lot of similarities between Ztalk and Zfree. They're both powered by Clear, they're both for residential customers, they're both Web-based services. They are quite different to anything else in the market."

There are some catches, however. To use Ztalk, customers will need an account with Clear proper, and they will pay 99 cents per minute for calls to Clear's customer support centre. Customer support by email will be free.

Weekly specials will be advertised on the Ztalk Web site, which launches at 9.30 tomorrow morning. Once they have a Clear account, customers of any other toll service provider will be able to take advantage of Ztalk services by dialling the prefix 0505.

Ztalk is not using any voice over IP technology, but Clear is not ruling out VOIP as a future option.

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