Discount WA telco heads east

Independent Western Australian telecommunications carrier Global Dial will launch its voice over internet protocol (VoIP) telephony services to the eastern seaboard over the next three months.

The second-tier telco, and the first to set up an IP network in Australia, will roll out its discount VoIP technologies to sales branches in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide.

It will target the east coast's 20 to 30 year-old multicultural and international student demographic, the highest users of IP and VoIP telephony at home and at work, according to Patrick Ng, Global Dial's managing director.

"No one else is doing VoIP on this kind of national scale," Robert Marson, spokesperson for Global Dial, said.

According to Ng, VoIP technology is gaining strong uptake by both consumers and businesses -- it is cheaper to run as it bypasses traditional phone networks and it is interactive.

Younger users enjoy using the online bill-checking option, available "the moment they hang up", and allowing them to watch their hip-pocket, said Ng.

Global Dial provides low-cost interstate and overseas call charges. It charges 10c per minute to the UK, 26c to Singapore and 12c per minute anywhere in Australia. Discount telcos One.Tel and Dingo Blue charge higher international call rates.

Global Dial also offers discounted rates to businesses whose call volume registers $1000 to $2000 higher than their last bill. "But our rates are so cheap, businesses don't often ask for this," Ng said.

The company is negotiating a partnership with Shanghai Telecom to become an Asia-Pacific ally. Ng intends to "get bandwidth from them and lease lines off them". Shanghai Telecom is "pulling some strings" to broker the deal, he revealed.

Two other companies have also backed Global Dial's investment plans for the Singaporean and Chinese consumer markets. Perth's Cobra Resources Limited holds a 30 per cent stake in Global Dial while Singapore's Low Keng Huat holds a 20 per cent stake.

Global Dial plans to offer 5-cent international calls in five years time. "No one else is doing this, not even One.Tel, and they're cheap," Marson said.

Ng predicts the Sydney expansion alone will attract 50,000 customers.

Current clients from its 100-strong enterprise base include Centrelink, MyCasino and the Duxton Hotel chain.

Ng is not fazed by the latest warnings from analysts that say 85 per cent of dot-coms would fail within five years. Global Dial has enjoyed 400 per cent increases in annual net profit, year after year, since forming in 1993, he said.

However, he would not disclose figures on earnings to date, or a forecast for the east coast expansion.

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