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Chocks away for 'BT Business Broadband Voice'

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BT has cut the ribbon on a new internet telephone service aimed at small and medium-sized companies (SMEs). The "BT Business Broadband Voice" service lets workers save money on voice calls by routing them over the net.

Subscribers to the service plug in a "BT Broadband Voice box" into their broadband connection and then use a standard telephone to make calls. BT reckons the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service could save companies 64 per cent on renting a second line.

"Broadband Voice is an important step in getting smaller companies on to a level playing field with their larger competitors, allowing them to take advantage of the same cost savings from VoIP. It also offers more mobility for employees, as they can use the technology either remotely or in the office," said BT bigwig Craig Rowland.

Connection is free until January 17. After that it will set back punters £40. Monthly subscription to the service is also cheaper until then.

Analysts reckon VoIP is set to be a major earner for companies. However, experts are predicting that those firms that have pioneered VoIP - such as Vonage - are unlikely to stay ahead for long. Instead, analysts argue that they are now losing market share and will ultimately be overtaken by the major telecoms player.

Said Yankee Group analyst Kate Griffin: "While alternative VoIP providers such as Vonage and many of the Vonage-like providers have a first-to-market advantage, their lead will be short-lived." ®

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