The Internet Group (Ihug) is poised to sign an interconnection agreement with Telecom, so it can launch an IP-based national toll calling service early next year.
The service, which will initially be targeted at Ihug's existing customer base of around 50,000, will encompass both telephones and PCs. Although calls will be made by simply picking up the phone, Ihug customers will also have the ability to receive calls via their PCs if their voice line is being used for Internet.
The company will also be offering business telephony products incorporating its high-speed StarNet service. The company signalled its intention to become a voice carrier earlier this year, and negotiations with Telecom have been in train for some time.
Ihug direct Nick Wood told @IDG recently that "the next step is very complicated for Telecom, with everybody moving towards being a carrier, as well as providing Internet. At the moment, they've got a certain relationship with carriers and another one with ISPs, and the two of them don't always mix well. But one affects the other - if you start offering us something that's better than what the interconnect customers have you just create another problem.
"Obviously they're trying to protect their market, but there has to be an acknowledgement of the value of their business. If you're a person trying to connect to them, and they've got 96% of the country covered, that has a value. You're using their services and their network to get your call through. That has to be represented in a fair way."