FREEDOM TELEPHONE, a small privately-owned company in which TV nonentity Noel Edmonds holds stock options, is poised to beat BT to the launch of an advertising-funded free phone call service.
Freedom, which has links with Energis, the National Grid-owned telecoms company, and Siemens of Germany, plans to launch its service, branded Free-to-Talk, on 1 June - almost certainly ahead of BT which is committed only to a three month pilot for its Freetime scheme.
According to Freedom’s managing director Joshua Sales, Free-to-Talk will be able to service up to two million customers, although he concedes this would have to be through controlled growth. Like the BT scheme, F-T-T requires subscribers to complete a detailed lifestyle questionnaire, enabling highly targeted contact by advertisers. Unlike BT, however, F-T-T is parsimonious with its ad breaks: each call will kick-off with a 10-15 second commercial with no further interruptions for five minutes. BT plans a 10-second opening commercial with others following at intervals of one minute, then two minutes.