Primus Telecommunications Inc. on Monday launched a VOIP service that sets a new low-price mark for consumer IP telephony offerings.
The all-you-can-talk service, called Lingo, costs $19.99 per month and extends to Canada and Western Europe. Primus, of McLean, Va., is also including a free three-month trial as part of the promotion. The new service represents an expansion into the consumer arena for Primus, which already offers an IP Centrex voice and data networking portfolio for businesses.
One interesting thing to watch here will be how Primus protects its large-enterprise business while pitching $49 and $99 all-you-can-eat solutions to the small office/home office market. A Primus sales representative described Lingo as a "residential" service, despite the fact that the company touts two "business plans" on its Web site: $49 unlimited calling to the United States, Canada and most of Western Europe; and $99 to those regions and additional countries.
For businesses whose voice and data needs can be met with one DSL or cable connection, Primus service requires the by-now familiar, self-installed terminal VOIP adapter on customer premises. Subscribers can keep their preexisting phone numbers and get get "universal" Primus-assigned numbers that will allow incoming calls to hop on the network from any Primus POP, as well as a free fax line with a per-minute rate based on destination.
Web access to controls and messages, typical of IP telephony and IP Centrex offerings, is part of the service. This includes online account management, voice mail and access to call settings such as call forwarding and screening. Other services give subscribers the enhanced services previously provided through central office Class 5 switches: call waiting, last-call return, redial and caller ID.
Lingos business plans will charge a $29.95 one-time activation fee, three cents per minute for calls to the United States and Canada out of plan, 75 cents per directory assistance call, $4.95 per month for additional U.S. phone numbers, and $10.00 per month for additional international phone numbers.
The Western European subscription includes calls from Lingo subscribers to the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Austria, Luxembourg, Vatican City, Norway, Portugal, and Spain. Calls to mobile phones are not included.