Secrecy over IP-based phone service

AN Australian company that will launch a countrywide IP-based telephone service on July 31 doesn’t want its identity to be known.

Rod van Gass, a partner at Easy Long Distance, a firm set up to market the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service, said the un-named Australian company had spent $350 million on building its own digital network but did not want to draw attention to itself.

He said the secrecy was a case of self-preservation.

“I think that Telstra and Optus, when they see what’s going on here, will do their very best to squash it,” Mr van Gass said.

Despite the network provider’s desire for anonymity, all potential residential and business consumers are welcome to pay Easy Long Distance a flat rate of $55 per month for its services as the un-named company’s marketing agent.

Mr van Gass said the so-called EasyLD service would be available in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane from July 31, with major regional centres across the country to be progressively brought online in the next six months. Ultimately, 90 per cent of Australia’s population will be able to use the EasyLD service.

By choosing EasyLD for STD calls, users will still have to pay the standard 25-cent connection fee to dial into the EasyLD digital hub, as well as the monthly fee. Once dialled in, their registration for the service will be confirmed within two seconds, and a second dialtone will be initiated, after which they can dial the interstate – and soon intrastate – number they want.

The re-connection from IP network to the Telstra analogue network also incurs a 25-cent fee, but Mr van Gass said EasyLD would absorb that cost as part of its service.

The phone calls will run across a high-speed IP network that is dedicated to phone and fax services only. It will not support other IP applications such as email and web browsing.

Mr van Gass said the network’s initial capacity was for 150,000 calls at once. In Perth and Adelaide up to 15,000 users can be dialled in at the same time; in Melbourne and Sydney the figure is 50,000 people; and in Brisbane, 20,000 people.

The company has been preparing the service for the past 18 months, ensuring that the authenticity of its transfer technology was assured, and to set up the backbone network around the country.

EasyLD is hoping both the residential and business markets will take up the new service, according to Mr van Gass.

He said the registration process was simple and did not involve customers having to change their phone carriers.

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