Calgary Sun – 2005: Internet firm offers low-cost calling

bf035431ddf01572f9fef6cbb558d90bBy SAMARA CYGMAN

The digitized voice of John Stix came through the phone with unprecedented clarity and strength.

Paying high rates for long-distance calling is over in Calgary, says one of the founders of Worldline – a one-year-old venture new to the Calgary area, poised to abolish charging per minute for long-distance calling, using voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) technology.

How it works is simple – callers phone a local Worldline Calgary phone number, listen to a five-second greeting, and enter the Canadian long-distance number they want to reach, all for only $7.95 a month.

And long-distance calls to the U.S. and overseas are only a few months away.

“We take your analog voice, digitize it and send it out over our own Internet that we have right across Canada – we did that to ensure the call quality is fantastic and call security is good too,” says Stix.  “We are the first company to provide this kind of service in Canada nationwide.”

Started in Toronto, Worldline enjoyed tremendous growth within their first year as thousands signed up for their service, which has now expanded into every major city In Canada.  And now they are launching In Calgary.

Customers do not require a computer or an Internet connection to enjoy Worldline’s service, don’t have to change their regular telephone service providers and don’t have to worry about speaking into a specialized mouthpiece or attachment.

John_Jodi“We felt you simply can’t change the way people have been calling for 100 years,” says Stix.  “We didn’t want to teach people to dial differently so we decided to work on technology to access our service through your everyday home phone.”

What’s the catch, you might ask?

There isn’t one – unlimited long-distance calling, without restrictions, is at your fingertips, whether you’re at home or on a cellphone.

The success of Worldline marks a breakthrough for the 35-yearold Waterloo native, who joined forces with his best friend and business partner, Jody Schnarr, to bring the idea to fruition.  Stix and Schnarr jumped on the opportunity to test out the venture when deregulation was introduced in the telephone industry in 1994.

“We’ve been in telecommunications since 1994 when we got into the flat-rate, long-distance business and we noticed serious limitations to providing flat rate to customers – but in 1997 we realized the Internet can be used as an alternative network,” says Stix, adding the breakthrough came in 1998 with the first phone-to-phone VOIP call.  “The quality wasn’t good, but hey, we did it, and since 1998 we’ve been refining this technology and now with Worldline it’s working with tens of thousands of customers signing in just under one year.”

Stix and Schnarr came up with Worldline dial up – where people can purchase the most affordable dial-up Internet service in western Canada for only $5.95 per month.  He says it feels amazing to see something they have toiled over for so long finally take off and improve people’s lives.

“We’re fulfilling a need out there to help people communicate and at $7.95 a month you can talk, talk, talk and it doesn’t matter – otherwise you’re always watching your clock,” says Stix.

“This is huge for kids going to university to be able to talk to their parents as much as they need to – Worldline looks forward to providing the most least cost communication services to Calgary and the rest of Canada for many years to come.”