Broadband phone to slash call costs

A former University of New South Wales lecturer has made a foray into the Voice over IP (VoIP) market after years of research culminated in the Broadband Phone.

Broadband Phone Pty Ltd, founded by Dr KC Chan, released its first handset this week.

The phone offers incoming and outgoing calls via an ADSL or cable modem, meaning reduced costs and portable phone numbers.

The VoIP handset comes after the former AI and robotics lecturer researched communications technologies in Australia and Hong Kong.

Dr Chan has previously received government support to commercialise his research through the Australian Technology Park business incubator program in the late 90s.

The phone operates like a conventional handset, and displays the user's phone number and IP address.

The phone's major benefits are free calls from one broadband phone to another, and number portability.

"You can take your phone number wherever you go," company director Miranda Wong said.

"If you're in small business, you could attach several of your numbers to one phone, from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane for example, and your customers only pay for the cost of a local call."

She said this was more cost-effective than Telstra's 1300 service.

"It could also be useful for telemarketing, in that you could attach several phones to one point and calls would be charged at a local rate," she said.

The phone costs $249, with a standard call plan of $15.95 per month that includes one phone number and 50 local calls. Calls to mobiles and additional phone numbers are charged at different rates. The call infrastructure is provided by sister company, Empcom.

"The 50 local calls is about getting people to use it," Wong said.

"We want them to use it so they can see the benefits in cost, and in expanding their business opportunities elsewhere."

The company is looking for resellers, particularly regional ISPs, to help push the benefits of the handset to small business and consumers.

"[We want] ISPs that are looking at adding more features and value to their broadband offering," Wong said.

"If they have good coverage, and don't have a voice offering, they might use us or they can create their own infrastructure and go without the Broadband Phone branding."

The company plans to add more call functionality in future releases.

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