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VoIP Goes Stale at Tesco in the UK

Tesco, a leading grocery/supermarket chain in the UK and elsewhere are canning VoIP, so reported the Register. The move is designed to bolster their value priced MVNO play in the mobile space that offers low cost, UK calling and is designed to be a cost cutting option for the cord cutters.

The move to shelve the Voice over IP telephony services, including Talk Wi-Fi comes at a time in the UK where wireless calling plans and deals continue to eviscerate the landline business market of many carriers. But the decision to take the products off the shelves and stop providing top-up credit is also an indication that people don't want to buy their basic phone service from the grocery, but they will top up a pre-paid phone there, so selling that service, with greater effort would seem to make sense.

In my mind this provides a big opportunity in the UK for Vonage to pick up the customer base that still wants a landline, or for the cable guys to move in fast.


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Martyn Davies

Over the last decade BT have deftly introduced bundled minute packages, and special discounts for nominated friends/family that you call a lot. So with all these "free" minutes that you have to use anyway, that really undermines the domestic VoIP proposition.

I've never really understood the Vonage (UK) proposition. Most of my BT bill is now rental plus broadband charges, so it doesn't seem to make much sense to pay another subscription to Vonage so that I've got some more "Vonage minutes" in addition to the "BT minutes" I will no longer be using.

The fact is that VoIP is a wholesale technology as well as a retail one, and BT can easily benefit from the lower costs themselves and they can say "yeah we do VoIP too", if it pleases them to do that.


From my understanding of what has happened here (and I'm a Tesco Internet Phone customer), Tesco have been forced into closing the service as their supplier, Freshtel, are pulling the plug in the UK. The "Shop" and "Visit our online store" links at http://www.freshtelinternetphone.co.uk/ show that it has been closed for new customers, and there has been some discussion on this over at DigitalSpy at http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=1227195

Dan Shepperd

Tesco wasn't the right home for selling an off the shelf VoIP package - at least not while that technology is relatively unknown to the average consumer. They manage to sell boxed PAYG mobiles because that paradigm has been around since about 1998 in the UK.

If Vonage (or whoever) want to put VoIP into a bricks and mortar store they need to buddy up with a shop that has experience of explaining new products to customers: Somewhere moderately tech focused with staff who can actually answer questions. I'd push it out through one of the independent mobile phone shops or Maplin.

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