Concert, the global telecommunications joint venture between BT and AT&T, is scheduled to start trials of toll free Internet telephony based international calls in the New Year.
The company is taking control of AT&T's Global Clearinghouse, which was set up to enable national Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to provide international telephony services.
Global Clearinghouse provides ISPs with a turnkey solution to route calls between 220 countries. The ISPs fix their own rates and AT&T handles the consolidation and settlement of traffic records between members' gateways.
But according to UK based research company iLocus, this is the first time a clearinghouse has offered toll free services, although wholesalers and PC-to-phone companies have ventured into the market already.
While international toll free calls - where businesses rather than callers pay the fee - have traditionally been unattractive to smaller companies hoping to reach global customers, Concert claims that Internet telephony cuts charges by up to 30 per cent.
It is targeting the service particularly at organisations with customer hotlines and service centres, call centres and ecommerce operations.
According to Lea King, Global Clearinghouse's product director for Concert, the business handled more than 20 million minutes of monthly traffic in November, with monthly growth "in double digits".
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