VoIP provider EQO taps migrant market


EQO is the latest VoIP company to set up in the UK, buoyed by the publicity around high international mobile call costs and roaming rates. EQO chief executive Bill Tam said last week the market for international calls is worth close to $300 billion (£148bn) per annum.

It is targeting one million users globally by this time next year and claims to save the user 95 per cent on international calls.

EQO, founded in Vancouver three years ago, runs on around 300 Java-enabled handsets at present. It requires the user to download a 200KB client from EQOs WAP site. The phone book is imported into a new interface so the user can scroll for a name, click and call.

EQO carries the call via a mobile phone network at source. The call is then routed over IP using a circuit switching network, and out the other side onto a mobile network in the destination country.

Both legs of the call over GSM networks are charged at local rates. Where both parties on the call are EQO users, the cost of the two legs is subtracted from their respective network call bundles. Where the recipient is not an EQO customer, the termination cost is subtracted from the callers EQO account.

The propensity to call internationally is higher in London because of the number of migrants and foreign nationals, and its dispersed community, said Tam.

The primary market in the UK is the migrant market many have left their home countries for economic reasons and want to stay in regular contact with friends and family at home.

At the moment, they are either using calling cards or else making VoIP calls from PCs in internet cafes, he added.