telefonicaWhile at ITExpo in Miami Beach earlier this month, I came across an offer from Telefonica, the Spanish telco that over the years I have admired a great deal. In the 1990s, as the diverstiture craze swept Brazil and Argentina and Chile and Colombia, Telefonica dominated the auctions for pieces of the South American telcos and mobile operators. The natural ties between Europe and South America haven't been particularly friendly in the 20th century since Simon Bolivar led revolutions throughout the Spanish speaking continent during the 19th century. But, Telefonica has wisely been able to exploit the historical link for both their advantage and the advantage of their South American customers.

Anyways, Telefonica Voype was launched as a Microsoft Live-based service at the show with a big promotional bundle in the name tag badge. The offer is a 50% discount when signing up for minutes. Just type in the promotional code: TRYVOYPE to get your discount. 

The VoIP client is the Microsoft Messenger client (for Mac in my case) which also integrates with OCS 2007 for intra-enterprise IM, calling and desktop video. Service pricing however, costs $0.0199 per minute for calls to Canada. Well, they're free for Skype. And to most other countries, Skype is quite competitive.

For example: Voype prices are $0.0199 per minute for calls to UK, France and Canada while $0.0940 for calls to Mexico.

Skype offers an international plan at $0.021 per minute to UK, France and some parts of Mexico (DF and Monterey) with a $0.039 per call connection fee. Calls to Canada are free. Voype also charges $0.0154 per minute for calls within the USA, while Skype calls within the US are free. But without the plan, Skype rates to Mexico are $0.099 per minute. 

Despite the trivially lower prices, (it will take over 15 hours of calls to make it a $1 difference in calls to the UK, or 3 hours and 20 minutes to make $1 difference in calls to Mexico), Telefonica's strength as the regional telco for South America will form a solid advantage for South Americans living in the US, provided they can and do market successfully to this community. They seem to be well on the way with this approach, choosing a well-known software partner for the client and making the website available in both Spanish and Portuguese. But, they will have to do more to reach these folks here in the US.

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