WA-based PieNetworks has launched a WiFi Hot Spot WebPhone aimed at revitalising the flagging public payphone market.
The product is a combination of a wifi hotspot, VoIP phone and digital product terminal capable of dispensing ringtones, mobile phone prepaid credit, bill payment and other digital services.
Despite the steady decline in payphone usage and revenues, the VoIP WebPhone had the potential to "revitalise the use of payphones" by offering lower cost long distance, mobile and international calls as well as internet and digital product access, the company claimed.
"PC, phone and [digital products] all have separate cost bases, but the WebPhone offers multiple services off the one cost base," MD Campbell Smith said. "It's also an advertising medium so there's another service."
Smith said that while hotspot take up had been slow to date, the WebPhone, which was also WiMAX compatible, would see demand through a growing number of VoIP-enabled mobile handsets.
"These terminals are about scale - we need to get a lot out there... and they are slightly more expensive than payphones, but their operational costs are much cheaper," he claimed. "As they are IP-based they can be managed remotely."
Smith said discussions were under way with several payphone operating telcos - including Telstra - in Australia and overseas for a roll-out of the WebPhone.
He said the product was likely to appeal to remote communities - where the WebPhone would act as a public phone, wifi connectivity and services provider as much as to casual business users waiting at airports.
VoIP payphone no pie in the sky
By Tim Lohman on Aug 15, 2006 1:24PM