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No Room For Domestic VoIP in the UK?

Posted by Andrew at 7:56 AM on March 29, 2010

On Saturday, Tesco emailed the users of its internet phone service to tell them that the service was being closed down at the end of April.  Although it’s certainly not the only VoIP outfit in the UK, it’s one of the few who have sold directly into the domestic market and are a household name.

Tesco is a major supermarket in the UK which has branched out into telecoms, primarily as an mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), but has also offered a VoIP service.  This was a rebranded Freshtel service and it appears to be the difficulties with Freshtel that have led to the closure.

Tesco made the system as painless as possible.  You could buy dedicated handsets, converters for standard phones and the usual USB handset or headset.  It was a good system with no technical knowledge required and a web interface to configure what there was.

From reading the various forums, it’s clear that many of the users were running small business through the system as an easy way to get second phone lines without incurring huge cost and I can see this is a real market.  A number of VoIP services have already posted to say that they are happy to take on ex-Tesco users (allegedly at even better rates!).

However, I’m uncertain as to the market for domestic VoIP services.  At the moment, I have a landline and I have a mobile.  On the landline, I pretty much get free off-peak calls and on my mobile I have a monthly contract which entitles me to certain number of “free” calls.  The only time the Tesco service gives benefit is on international calls, which I don’t need to make that often.  So I can see why it might be difficult to make money from the service within a purely domestic market.

Of course, Skype has been successful but I think it’s success has been through free Skype-to-Skype connections and that’s not quite what is needed here.

I suppose where it might be beneficial to both parties is when the customer gives up their landline and relies on VoIP for all their voice traffic but that’s still quite a hard sell, especially when landlines work so well.  Unless you have cable, you need your landline for your ADSL broadband anyway.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of companies successfully offering SIP and other VoIP services to individual consumers for business use or as a cheap second line.  It would be too simplistic to say that if Tesco can’t make it work, no-one can, yet I just can’t see domestic VoIP services replacing landlines in the UK anytime soon.  Anyone else any thoughts?

British Broadband Tax

Posted by Andrew at 10:19 AM on December 11, 2009

In his pre-Budget report, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer has confirmed that there will be a 6 GBP tax on all households with fixed-line phones in order to setup a fund that will be used to ensure that even the uneconomical parts of the UK will get fast fibre connections.

Note for readers - the incumbent UK Government is Labour, who come from a socialist or left-wing background.  The Opposition is the Conservatives (aka Tories), who come from capitalist or right-wing background.  For a good few years, it was hard to tell which policies came from which party but now the economy is down, they’re reverting to type.

While the aims of the Chancellor may be laudable, I think he’s completely wrong to setup a broadband fund.  All it will do is line the telecommunication companies’ pockets and it’s not as if they’re short of a penny.  In each of 2007 and 2008, one of the major British telecoms companies, BT made 2.5bn GBP (before tax) on 20bn GBP.  Ok, things are bit tighter in 2009 so far but they’re still making millions.

If the past 30 years of technological advancement has taught us anything, the pressure on technology to make things smaller, faster or cheaper has come from competitive pressures, not by throwing subsidies or government money at companies.  These companies ought to be trying to figure out how to make the uneconomic parts of the country into economic parts, by delivering more efficiently or delivering differently.

Around 30% of households are believed to be in this uneconomic category but that’s only for fibre connections - the figures (and Government) totally ignore the possibilities of wireless technologies.  Rather than let the best technology win out – and it’s for the market to choose what “best” means – the fund will be used to connect up with fibre whether it’s appropriate or not.

And even if the property is miles from anywhere why not simply charge the customer the true price of bringing fibre to their home.  That’s what happens for electricity – if you choose to build your house two miles from the nearest electricity line, the utility company will bill you the cost to install the cable to your house.  For a non-essential service to be given this kind of subsidy seems bizarre.

And I’m sure an extra side effect will be increasing numbers of people dropping their landlines in favour of mobiles and VoIP.  I’m definitely thinking harder about it – if I didn’t have ADSL broadband I would have done it years ago.

T-Mobile @ Home

Posted by Matthew Greensmith at 3:39 PM on June 25, 2008

Todd is going to love this, but T-Mobile’s Hotspot @ Home service has morphed into something that actually works, and might just replace that landline we’re all so hot to get rid of. Labeled T-Mobile @ Home, it allows you to have unlimited nationwide calling for just another $10 more on your existing T-Mobile bill.

It works with a Linksys-based VOIP router that then lets you plug in any corded phone (or cordless base station). The router costs about $50, and they even sell V-Tech cordless handsets at a pair for $60. I already have the V-Tech cordless handsets all over my house.

But I don’t have T-Mobile service, which is pretty sucky in this area (not many bars). Now if AT&T would offer something like this, I’d be on board.

Who am I kidding, AT&T giving up their landline money-makers? Never gonna happen. But a girl can dream!

Look for the T-Mobile@Home service to launch July 2.

GNC-2006-12-19 #226

Posted by geeknews at 3:18 AM on December 19, 2006

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GNC-2006-11-10 #215

Posted by geeknews at 3:13 AM on November 10, 2006

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VoSKY Skype from any phone in the World

Posted by geeknews at 10:07 PM on August 10, 2006

Over the past 10 days I have been testing a new product called VoSky, it is a Skype Certified product that allows you to place Skype and SkypeOut calls from your home, mobile or any other phone it also allows you to receive incoming skype calls to any phone you designate.

Setting the small box up and loading the software took no time what so ever. I had seen this product at CES in January, and was curious of it’s performance. What suprised me is that I could be away from my computer and dial into the line that the VoSKY interface box was connected to and following the voice commands was able to initiate a Skype call. The VoSKY box and integrated software package also allowed me to forward calls to my cell phone when I was away as well.

Talking with clients via Skype initiated from my mobile phone amazed a lot of people, and that feature alone is worth the $69.95 price of the VoSKY Call Center.

If you do not have broadband at work there is no reason now not to be able to accept and make Skype calls, when you are away from the broadband connection. During the entire time that it has been hooked to my home phone it never interupted my wife when she was using the land line and in fact she barely knew it was there. [www.vosky.com]

This product has been provided to Geek News Central for review free of charge and no promises were made as to what the outcome of the review would be made. This product was used in a real world environment as are all products reviewed on Geek News Central for a minimum of 72 hours.

Gizmo Goes All Calls Free

Posted by geeknews at 11:42 AM on July 20, 2006

If attention was what Gizmo wanted they sure are going to get it. Gizmo has announced free calls to nearly every country, no not computer to computer calls, Computer to land line calls to multiple countries. Seeing that my family does a lot of International calling with my typical long distance bill is still over $100.00 per month this interest me greatly.

My wife is on the land line to Japan all the time, so now I am going to install Gizmo on her computer and see if she will use it. The company behind Gizmo says they will make up the differences in premium services. It looks like a ploy to catch up with Skype but at the same time you have to give the folks at Gizmo some credit for really sticking there necks out.

Worked with me will it work with you? [andyabramson.blogs.com] [www.gizmoproject.com]

VOIP callers will Pay Universal Service Fee Taxes

Posted by geeknews at 1:34 PM on June 22, 2006

Well I know what this means for Vonage customers, your bill is about to go up, and you will now be contributing to keep small rural telephone companies in business. You will be paying to support companies that are still trying to surcharge for touch tone services. The very companies you are routing around you will now indirectly have to give money to them.

What isn’t clear is how this is going to affect those of us that use Skype. I am sure they will have to comply as well, but seeing Skype calls terminating to land lines in the United States is free at the moment, it may not be a big deal till they end the promotion.

Since the FCC is going to charge that tax the FCC should put that money in a special fund to help build public owned infrastructure that the phone companies can not control. We are being taxed to support these phone companies that are about to divide the Internet into tool booths, in order for companies like Vonage to have access to their networks in order for their data to pass unrestricted through their networks.

This is shameful beyond words. [news.com.com]

AOL to offer VOIP Services?

Posted by geeknews at 2:19 AM on September 21, 2005

First of all after hearing all of the horror stories about double billing and cancellation nightmares when dealing with AOL who in their right mind is going to use their soon to be rolled out VOIP service.

In my opinion with the company being notorious bad about billing practices and having this lock in mentality with their service to include the old adage that why would anyone still be on AOL when the Internet has everything they offer and then some.

AOL should have bought Skype that would have been a smarter move but know it now wants to be a telephone company. I sure hope my buddies sold their stock when I told them to a number of years ago.. Sorry AOL this is one Geek that thinks you have missed the train here. [businesswire.com]

Yahoo buys dialpad!

Posted by geeknews at 5:26 PM on June 14, 2005

Rumors last leek led to speculation that Skype was being purchased by Yahoo, today it was announced that Yahoo purchased dialpad a relative unknown VOIP service. I am hopeful that Skype will not be purchased by Yahoo. Considering all of the quality employee’s they have sucked out of Redmond recently the rumor last week did not make sense. [Yahoo]