Only four years and $400 million later, national IP carrier Comindico has launched its VoIP telephony service to businesses under the eCall brand.
Comindico’s CEO, John Stuckey, said although there is scepticism in the market, the future is definitely Internet telephony.
“We’ve been operating voice calls since September last year and are announcing eCall today as an Internet phone call system for businesses,” Stuckey said. “The launch for families will be around May and June.”
Comindico claims to be able to reach 98 percent of the population with its 66 nodes scattered around the country.
“eCall offers untimed local calls for eight cents in a market where most people pay 17 cents,” Stuckey said. “The rate is the same for national eCalls.”
Regarding marketing, Stuckey said eCall is a “great name” and the company wanted to “get it out there quickly”.
“We will do a little bit of advertising in business publications like CIO,” he said. “However, eCall is a business offering so we will do most of it face-to-face.”
Stuckey said Comindico’s immediate target market is the top 11,000 businesses but when the service is launched to the residential market the company will do mass media marketing.
The prerequisites for eCall include an IP PBX or router that supports IP telephony and a “business grade Internet connection”. A minimum monthly fee of $250, including $200 of calls, is also payable.
“Broadband adoption is slow but we are targeting businesses with broadband,” Stuckey said. “The service we offer the residential market will be available over anyone’s broadband. If voice is the killer application I think it will drive broadband adoption.”
Stuckey said the service is priced very competitively but is also at a point that is profitable for the company.
According to telecommunications analyst Paul Budde, VoIP is a very disruptive technology that threatens the existing market.
“IP telephony can drive costs down by 80 percent,” Budde said. “It’s time to get action back into the voice market. Since AAPT was taken over by Telecom New Zealand it has been a disaster and prices have been going up.”
Budde said voice is a $5 billion market and that most revenue will come from fixed networks which are “the backbone of the economy”.
On the brand eCall, Budde said: “I like the name eCall as it’s like e-mail and has the right direction.”