globeinvestor.com

Breaking News from The Globe and Mail

ROMA LUCIW

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Primus Telecommunications Canada Inc. launched the first high-speed Internet-based local telephone service in the country Thursday, lauding it as a "new era" of cheaper phone calls for Canadians.

The opportunity for consumers to make residential calls over the Internet is a clear challenge to former Canadian monopoly phone companies such as Bell Canada and Telus Corp., which controlled more than 90 per cent of local residential and business telephone lines in 2002.

Toronto-based Primus Canada is offering a variety of voice, data, Internet, and Web hosting packages to residential and home-offices with high-speed Internet, anywhere in the country.

Using Voice over Internet protocol (VoIP), consumers with high-speed Internet will now be able to make calls online, without having to change their phone number.

Calling it "the first true alternative to traditional residential phone service in Canada", Primus Canada said the broadband voice service will save consumers and home offices an average 25 per cent.

One Primus package of basic local service for residential homes — not including the cost of high-speed Internet - is being sold for $19.95 a month, 15 per cent less on average than traditional residential service, Primus Canada said. A package that includes unlimited long distance between Canada and the U.S. is also available for $20 a month.

TalkBroadband will provide Canadians with "a reliable, simple and less expensive alternative to traditional phone service," said Ted Chislett, president of Primus Canada. "It's the perfect solution for DSL subscribers wanting a second phone line or for cable high-speed Internet subscribers looking to replace their existing phone line or add a second one."

Not wanting to be outdone, Canadian companies are also getting ready to launch their own Internet telephone services. Shaw Communications Inc., Rogers Communications Inc., as well as Bell Canada and Telus, have all stated their intentions of getting in on the action.

Primus Canada is owned by Primus Telecommunications Group Inc. of McLean, Va. The company said it has 900,000 customers in Canada.

© The Globe and Mail