Esprit Telecom Launches The Euro Calling Card

07:01 p.m Sep 24, 1998 Eastern

LONDON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 25, 1998-- -- First calling card to use a single freephone access number

across Europe -- A uniquely pan European product in terms of currency and access

Esprit Telecom Group plc (Nasdaq:ESPRY) (Easdaq: ESPR), the leading pan-European telecoms company, today launched the Esprit Telecom Euro Calling Card.

Available throughout Europe, the Euro Calling Card is the first pre-paid card priced in Euros. It is also believed to be the first card to use Universal International Freephone Numbers, or UIFNs. Using UIFNs, customers can access the service by using exactly the same freephone access numbers in most European countries.

"The Esprit Telecom Euro Calling Card can be used from any tone dialling phone -- be this in a hotel, phone kiosk, business or residence -- to call any country in the world at competitive international prices. For European travellers, it offers a valuable supplement to a mobile phone as it is not restricted by incomplete coverage areas, and, of course, does not need recharging," said Nick Pellew, marketing director at Esprit Telecom Group plc.

The Esprit Telecom Euro Calling Card is also aimed at companies wishing to promote their own pan-European positioning. Companies may jointly brand the card with their own logo as well as having their own artwork on the face of the card.

With a face value of 15 Euros, the Euro Calling Card offers rich functionality including advice of balance, follow on call facilities, security coding and language set and reset. It supports six European languages (English, Dutch, French, German, Italian and Spanish.) Security features include a scratch off PIN number and tamper proof packaging. The card is also compatible with modem dialling, enabling users to collect and send email from their PCs.

"The Euro Calling Card complements our existing portfolio of cards which includes a post paid card, the Elite Calling Card. We aim to give our customers a choice of products with our unique mix of quality and service at competitive prices -- and a distinctive European feel," said Graham Halls, managing director of Esprit Telecom UK. About Esprit Telecom

Esprit Telecom Group plc, a NASDAQ and EASDAQ quoted company trading under the symbols "ESPRY" and "ESPR" respectively, is one of the largest independent European telecommunications service providers. The company has sales offices in 26 major cities in the United Kingdom, Germany, The Netherlands, Spain, France, Belgium, and Italy and a state of the art digital fibre optic telecommunications network stretching across 31 cities in eight European countries. Esprit Telecom Background Paper: UIFNs

A UIFN is a single freephone number which is the same in every country where it is used. UIFNs are all prefixed by the international access code, then 800 and an eight digit number.

Universal International Freephone Numbers (UIFNs) are the result of agreement between the world's major PTTs (the national telecommunications operators such as BT or Deutsche Telekom) to operate reciprocal arrangements for a universal freephone product. This has been done within the realms of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The ITU is an international organisation within which governments and the private sector coordinate global telecom networks and services. Within its remit it manages the allocation of telephone numbers.

When a number is required, the request is registered by ITU. In this way a single definitive list of allocated numbers is kept to prevent duplication. The next phase is to get the number activated in each country where the customer wishes to use it. To give an idea of how this differs to simply having a freephone number in each country, freephone codes in Spain start 900, in the UK 800 and in Italy 167 (and so forth).

When the UIFN is dialled, the call is routed to the individual service operator (in this case Esprit Telecom). The routing from there is dependent upon the card held. For instance, calls may be routed according to: -- Country of call origin (eg to enable a call centre service

representative with the right language skills to be selected) -- time of day (to operate a 24 hour service operation in countries

across different time zones) -- volume of calls (to enable overflow answering).

The scheme works because all telephone companies operate against a single register of numbers and agree to route calls to the individual service provider. Once the number is allocated/selected, the intelligence of the call routing is dependent upon the customer needs and the abilities of the service provider.

Further information about Esprit Telecom is available on the Internet at:

Copyright 1998, Business Wire

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