Monday, November 29, 2004

babble broadband voip service - free calls to fixed lines 

Via TomTom

uk telecom solutions provider bon.net recently launched its broadband voip telephony service babble. the service is very similar to skype, chargeable destinations are paid with prepaid calling cards that can be topped up with a credit card. babble will introduce a flat fee plan in 2005.

Of course I tried this out immediately and after some hazzles with the registration it worked. The real funny thing is that different to Skype all calls to fixed numbers on the PSTN to US Mainland, Australia and New Zealand, Europe and UK (which is obviously different from Europe) are FREE. Only calls to mobile phones are charged. How do they do this?

If you subscribe (minimum 5 Pounds/month), you may forward your calls to answering machines and any PSTN number. You also may get a phone number for incoming calls from the PSTN.

Comments:
In the Babble On's datasheet, they clarify that initially BON member will have 1000 free minutes for calls to Zone 0, but they further will add the amount of new free minutes at their own discretion. No statement made that this free minutes feature would be supported forever.
I think they are trying to use this trick to quickly create a large customer base and then gradually migrate to a subscription-based revenue generation model. The question is whether the BON network is ready to withstand the surge of new users like Skype has experienced, and whether Babble be able to find an acceptable subscription pricing.
Disclaimer: I'm not a real blogger but just a product marketing, so my judgement may be wrong :-)
 
IMHO, I think VoIP based telecoms companies are likely to trend towards providing free PSTN termination that is subsidised almost completely by other services.

Getting a large subscriber base is key, naturally.

From what I can tell, the cost of traditional telecoms has been in the last mile. VoIP strips this away. Why shouldn't it be that the only thing I pay for is my data connection?

I'm hoping Babble will endeavour to remain as "free" as possible while still remaining commercially viable!
 
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