The Netherlands’ five leading cable operators – UPC Netherlands, Casema, Multikabel, Essent and CaiW – have announced plans to interconnect their internet telephony networks, paving the way for free voice calls between their combined subscriber base of 450,000 users. According to Sikko de Graaf the chief executive of CaiW’s service arm, CaiW Diensten, the five companies plan to create an exchange which will eliminate the need for them to route IP calls over the traditional PSTN. The five cablecos presently cover 95% of the country between them, have seven million CATV customers and are adding new telephony users at a rate of 50,000 a month. De Graaf said that while it will be down to individual companies to set their own VoIP tariffs, ‘it will open the door for free . . . telephony and video’. The threat to KPN is clear: at current take-up rates the Netherlands could be home to more than a million IP telephony users by 2007.
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