Internet service provider Voyager is to lower prices and increase the coverage of its voice-over-IP (VoIP) phone service.
From the fourth quarter national calls (now 30 cents a minute) will come down by approximately 40%, calls to Australia (now 60 cents a minute) will decrease by as much as 50% and other international calls (now 90 cents a minute) will drop about 40%. In addition, the service will be able to make calls to anywhere worldwide. Currently Voyager Phone calls can only be made to national numbers, Australia, the US or the UK.
Voyager (owned by Australian ISP OzEmail) is part of Interline, a worldwide VoIP consortium which has affiliates in Australia, the US, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. A call placed from a Voyager gateway is routed to the respective termination gateway at an Interline affiliate, which then places a call using the telephone system to the destination. The termination gateway is located by the initial gateway through Interline's servers, supplying billing information to the servers. Interline provides routing, billing and reporting that is similar to the way conventional long-distance companies work with regional phone companies. Interline charges a management fee for these services.
Voyager general manager Michael Farrell says the company will offer "significant savings" where it can terminate calls on its affiliate network. For areas where it does not have an affiliate Interline will use "refile" — a process that uses a hub service based in the US.
"It's similar to call-back services in that it's cheaper to make a call out of the US than out of many other countries," says Farrell. "We use our technology to carry calls to the US and then patch it through to our refile hub out of the US. The service will be just below the cost of existing toll services." However, users don't have to wait for a call back, he says.
Voyager is also exploring using an 0800 number to enable customers to call into Voyager from anywhere in the country. Currently Voyager Phone is only available to callers in Auckland, Wellington, Christ-church and Hamilton.
Farrell says it will also be offering pre-paid Voyager Phone cards.