Mobile phone operator One 2 One has launched an ambitious tariff plan specifically for businesses, which includes free local daytime calls. Users will also gain access to a souped-up GSM technology that claims to improve voice quality.
Called Enhanced Full Rate (EFR), the industry standard technology is already offered by One 2 One's rival, Orange.
EFR uses advanced coding algorithms and signal processes to improve line clarity, claiming it improves on Full Rate Codec, the technology currently used in GSM networks, which converts analogue speech signals to digital.
However, users can only take advantage of the new technology by buying EFR-enabled handsets for a subsidised price of #99. The first two to be available for One 2 One?s programme will be the voice activated Nortel 2000 and the Ericsson PH768.
Analysts are lukewarm about the value of the improvements offered by the technology. Said Patrick Donegan, mobile wireless analyst at the Yankee Group: ?EFR won?t give you maximum improvement - it will offer minor to marginal improvements. It will impact in some way in noisy environments and it gives female voices better clarity, but I wouldn?t say the difference is enormous.?
However, Donegan expects that over the next 18 months handset manufacturers will add support EFR into new designs, and users will upgrade to these as a matter of course. It is unclear whether operators with older networks, such as Vodafone and Cellnet, will introduce the technology into their infrastructure.
Among offers in the revamped tariff package, called Precept, business users can get free subscription to One 2 One?s international option, which charges around 10 pence a minute to link to the US. Users are also able to roll over unused allowance minutes up to the value of their monthly quota.
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