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Merry Quip cocks snook at telco cowboys

Yee-hah! BT's cut-price outfit goes gunning for competition

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BT has entered the cut-price telco market in a bid to compete with the "cowboys" currently rustling up customers in Britain. Milton Keynes-based Quip is an Internet-based joint venture backed by majority stakeholder BT, along with Unisys and Bank of Scotland. Like other low-cost telco services, Quip can undercut the likes of BT because it buys spare capacity on networks which it purchases at a discount. It is these savings that are passed onto consumers. But according to Quip, what differentiates it from the competition is that it is also a pukka e-business with none of the associated overheads of traditional discount operations. It claims Quip can offer consumers up to 20 per cent off the cost of their national and long distance phone calls. Not content with just publicising its service in the run-up to a nation wide ad campaign, Quip also used its launch to attack the reputation of the low-cost telco sector in Britain. In a statement, Quip founder and CEO, Steve Gandy said: "There are many problems with the present market; the complex pricing and discounting schemes available, the hidden extras charged by some cowboys in the market and the lack of trust by consumers for the multitude of so called low-cost telephony suppliers." Cowboys? About whom can Gandy be talking about? Unfortunately, since he didn't return a call by press time we simply don't know. A spokeswoman for low-cost telco, OneTel, refused to be drawn on Gandy's view of the sector, worth around £100 million in Britain. Instead, she agreed that consumers needed to "well educated" when choosing a telco. But she made it clear that since OneTel was a "leader in the market", Gandy's words obviously didn't refer to her company. Quip is aimed at residential customers, single office/home office workers and SMEs. ®

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