Net phone slashes costs

November 14, 1997

A significant obstacle in the development of effective communication between European education institutions has been removed with the successful launch of a new cost-cutting telecommunications service.

As part of the recent European Commission-sponsored NetD@ys Europe, students at Birmingham College of Food, Tourism and Creative Studies and the Lycee Hotelier, a college in Strasbourg, France, used their computers to chat, swapping between French and English.

NTC Voice, developed by a start-up company in the United States, reduces the cost of telephone calls by up to 70 per cent, and enables phone calls to be made through a secure, high-quality digital network. Rather than using the standard telephone line, calls are routed through the Internet in real time, but problems associated with Net use, including poor sound quality, are avoided.

The new technology allows users to dial any phone in the world, not just another NTC enabled computer.

Craig Deeley, lecturer in modern languages at Birmingham said: "This new system could make a massive difference to the way that languages are taught. For instance, cheaper voice-to-voice communications could allow us to set up a 'buddy system' with the Strasbourg College where each Birmingham student is assigned a French 'voicepal'.

"In this way, our pupils can hear French spoken by native speakers, which will be invaluable to learning the language.A connection like this over the regular telephone lines would certainly be too expensive,."

NTC plan further innovations with to enable web site buttons to make phone connections.

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