Freshtel will make available an Internet Telephony service to customers participating in a broadband over powerline (BPL) trial in the Queanbeyan area of NSW.
Country Energy, which manages Australia's largest power supply network across 95 per cent of the state, is launching a six month trial commencing in May 2007, to test power utility applications as well as high speed broadband Internet and voice-over-internet services delivered via powerlines.
In addition to receiving a modem and access to the broadband service, the 300 participating households will receive a free Binatone cordless phone and will be provided with $30 per month of Freshtel call credit.
Freshtel Holdings CEO, John Butkiewicz, said it will provide an insight into the potential for widespread Internet Telephony uptake in Australia.
"The use of existing infrastructure to provide broadband telecommunications services to country and coastal communities will provide an exciting boost to broadband penetration," he said.
"Broadband usage is a key criterion in the growth of Internet Telephony.
"As high performance broadband becomes more accessible, Internet Telephony uptake will increase as consumers and businesses use this service to drastically cut their telecommunication costs."
The Country Energy trial is testing technology that will provide households with broadband access up to 40 times faster than a 256Kb ADSL connection.
Freshtel's R&D team will be working closely with Country Energy to monitor and enhance the customer response and technical performance of the voice calls throughout the trial period.
Country Energy, which is owned by the NSW State Government, has around 195,000 kilometres of powerlines and 1.4 million power poles, and offers retail electricity in five states and territories. It employs more than 3,900 employees serving more than 870,000 customers.