Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Take my voice, please

BT Group is giving away a years' worth of voice to the first 50,000 new DSL subs who sign up between now and 31st December and register for BT Communicator before 14th January 2005. The coverage on Reuters newswire namechecks Skype as a threat (is there an echo in here?), and this is clearly aimed directly at Skype, but there is other important stuff happening in the UK market too, which may have escaped Reuters' attention.

HomeChoice last week launched a telephony product (CPS, not VoIP) to complement its already-impressive TV/DSL bundle. Having done the hard work first (getting the TV piece right), they are now pursuing the easy bit, offering voice. Anyone for 1Mbps DSL, TV and free weekend and evening calls to geograhic numbers for GBP45? This ain't France yet, but it's a pretty radical downshift in pricing points for the UK, that's clear. A comparable plan combining BT Together Option 2 and NTL broadband plus TV would come in at GBP61.

The interesting thing about this BT offer is that it only applies to PC calling, and BT is also giving away a GBP5 voucher to be redeemed for a headset/handset. As such, it appears that BT is trying to acculturate new broadband users to the wonders of PC-based VoIP, just as Skype itself is trying to pull users away from the PC. In the spirit of "how're you gonna keep them on the farm when they've seen gay Paris," actively pushing consumers towards the PC is both bold and risky.

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