A 1000-user voice-over-Internet pilot in Auckland will save toll call customers more than 70% on their bills.
It’s the result of a joint venture between Net-Tel and Number One Services. Net-Tel is a recently established New Zealand company, set up by Sherman Ng, who has a similar business in Malaysia and a close association with Time-Telecom in Malaysia.
Auckland-based Number One brings its call centre, technical support and sales/marketing to the partnership.
The service is built around Clarent, a recent start-up operation in California, which provides a hardware and software solution running over IP.
“The box is an industrial PC running NT and with cards that connect to the telephone service in any way,” says Number One managing director Peter Macaulay. “The server provides the capability of turning any voice into IP packets and delivering it across the Internet to compatible servers.”
He says there are still no standards in the voice-over-Internet industry but Clarent is rolling out points of presence throughout the world. “There are several in Europe, it’s growing in Asia, and the US is pretty well covered.”
The billing system is designed so that whoever owns a server “clips the ticket” on the way through. “We’ve got an initial server in Auckland and we’re installing points in Napier, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.”
Those who subscribe are issued a card and pin number. Users pre-pay by credit card over the phone whatever they feel they will need.
The product is positioned in three clear areas. There’s the basic pre-paid card telephone service; a service to ISPs and telcos that want to take it in-house to enhance their existing services; and big-bandwidth and high toll-call corporate users.
In the latter two cases, Tel-Net and Number One will offer lease packages for the servers. “That means they begin cost savings from day one,” Macaulay says.
“Depending on the country called and local rates, there are savings of 70% and more.”