German ISP launches public VoIP service

German consumers and small businesses seeking cheap telephone service in addition to high-speed Internet access can plug into a new Net offering next month.

QSC AG, a provider of Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) service to both homes and enterprises, will launch a voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service targeting the residential market on Dec. 1, the company said Thursday in a statement. It will be Germany’s first such service, the company said.

The German service comes as interest in public VoIP service grows worldwide. Earlier in the week, Richard Notebaert, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of U.S. phone company Qwest Communications International Inc., announced at an industry forum that the U.S. phone company plans to roll out VoIP service to the mass market in Minnesota.

Already Internet telephony is becoming a popular service in the small and medium-size business (SMB) market. Australian network operator SingTel Optus Pty. Ltd. announced Friday a new scalable VoIP service for its SMB customers, while BellSouth Corp. last week unveiled a package of Net telephony services for small and midsize customers.

The QSC service, called IPfonie, will allow customers to make calls for free within the company’s network. Calls made to other fixed-line networks will cost 0.025 euros (US$0.029) per minute during business hours and