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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 January 2006, 11:04 GMT
Tesco launches net call service
Internet phone
Internet phone calls are cheaper than using landlines
Supermarket giant Tesco is launching an internet phone service to attract the growing number of consumers choosing to switch from landline services.

Currently 8.1 million UK households have broadband internet access and are able to make phone calls online.

Web-phoning technology, known as Voice over IP (Voip), enables phone conversations to be transmitted down the same wires used to browse the net.

Though once a niche product, Voip is now entering the mass market.

One pioneer in the sector, Skype, was last year bought by auction giant eBay.

So far, though, Voip has tended to remain the preserve of the technically minded, and there is still a sizable untapped market.

User friendly

Tesco is following the lead of its fore-runners by making sure its service feels like a normal telephone - albeit one which needs to plug into a PC.

Consumers have not yet caught on to internet calling but this is now set to change
Andy Dewhurst, Tesco Telecoms

As Skype and other services such as the UK's Gossiptel have already done, the UK's top supermarket by market share is giving customers a phone number: one which has an area code but which can be taken with them if they move house.

The retailer says its all-in-one internet phone service will focus on "simplicity, value and no hidden charges".

"Consumers have not yet caught on to internet calling but this is now set to change," said Andy Dewhurst, chief executive of Tesco Telecoms.

"What they have been looking for is a service that is simple, easy to use, convenient and great value."

Tesco Telecoms has teamed up with Australian based Freshtel, a leading internet phone company, to launch the service.

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