Bayantel begins selling VoIP to residential customers With indications that government is set to release regulatory guidelines on voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) next week, the Lopez-owned Bayan Telecommunications (Bayantel) has begun its push for its own VoIP service to residential users. Expecting to boost its broadband Internet subscribers to about 25,000 next year, Bayantel has also timed its push for residential VoIP service this year as consumer take up increases. VoIP is expected to grow at the pace of broadband Internet using the digital subscriber line (DSL), according to Rodrigo Montinola, Bayantel’s vice president of the Metro Manila retail market, in a recent briefing. "[VoIP] is going to stabilize our long distance business which has long been threatened by the mobile phone business," added Montinola. Bayantel has about 8,000 DSL subscribers nationwide this year from 3,000 in 2004, and expects to grow this to 25,000 by 2006, said Joevel Rivera, BayanTel vice president for product development. Take-up for broadband Internet access service is currently in "triple digit figures" expected to double by next year, the Bayantel executive said. The biggest slice of the Philippine DSL market will be gobbled up by residential users who thirst for speedy Internet services, Rivera said. Its rivals Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. and Globe have also experienced strong take up for DSL services. Rivera however stressed that Bayantel is using VoIP to also sell its broadband Internet offerings. The timing of its push for consumer VoIP services is strategic, as Philippine telephone companies engage in price wars for their respective voice services. "When you talk about voice, pricing is really driving business. But for VoIP, the biggest challenge right now is DSL coverage. Despite a rosy picture, the extent of our DSL coverage will determine our VoIP business," Montinola said. With cheaper long distance calls as its selling point, Bayantel's residential VoIP service is expected to attract its current base of consumers. "Of the 10 people we call, two eventually ask for a demo," said Rivera. "The key here is to attract the heavy users of IDD(international direct dialing)." Bayantel has been offering "voice over broadband" to corporate users for several years, but the company decided to push the service to consumers only this year. VoIP is a communications innovation that allows voice calls to be routed through the Internet using digital packets of information. It is now becoming an attractive alternative to traditional telephone service since it costs less to make long distance calls while enjoying the same benefits derived from typical telephone services. VoIP services like the famous Skype now allows people to make calls anywhere in the world as long as they can connect to a broadband Internet service. Reports indicate that Skype attracts about 150,000 users a day with its free VoIP service, but has about 1.2 million paying subscribers to SkypeOut service. The European firm now has a total of 40 million users worldwide. The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has recently issued draft guidelines on the deregulation of VoIP in the Philippines. But telephone companies like Bayantel have vehemently opposed the rules, stressing that VoIP providers should also be required to acquire a franchise from Congress. The NTC has already classified VoIP as a value-added service in an earlier memorandum, which means it will be deregulated. In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission has classified VoIP as an information service, also deregulated. Bayantel is offering VoIP services for as low as 499 pesos a month, plus a one-time installation fee. The service also comes with a "free" router that connects a regular phone to the Internet. Calls to the US, Canada, and other Southeast Asian countries would cost as low as .06 cents a minute, or about 85 percent cheaper than regular IDD rates, according to Bayantel executives. Bayantel has also hinted that the VoIP service offering for consumers is aimed to go head to head with rival Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co.'s flat-rate services. Bayantel’s VoIP service will be available nationwide, the company said. First posted 07:35am (Mla time) Aug 18, 2005 By Erwin Lemuel Oliva INQ7.net http://news.inq7.net/infotech/index.php ... y_id=47250 ----------------------------------------------- Is this good news or not?