The Budphone

BudlineBy Rose Simone, Record staff CAMBRIDGE – A Cambridge based independent telecommunications company, Fibernetics, has teamed up with the Budweiser beer brand to launch a smartphone application, the BudPhone, that allows people using the BlackBerry, iPhone or Android devices to make free long-distance calls within Canada.

The smartphone application, which was developed over the course of two years by Fibernetics, uses the company’s freephoneline.ca service, which is a voice-over-internet service.  It routes calls so that they look like local calls and lets people avoid the long distance charges.

“So when you want to make a long distance call, you can just launch the application on your smartphone device, and you can either use your key pad or your contact list to call,” said John Stix, the chief marketing officer for Fibernetics in Cambridge.  “You can call within Canada completely free of charge and you can talk as often, for as long and as often as you want,” he added.  The service will work anywhere in the Fibernetics phone network – which covers all the major centres and about 85 per cent of Canada, Stix said. It doesn’t require listening to any audio advertising and there is no interference with the phone call, he said.

The reason it can be free is because voice-over-internet is actually very inexpensive to run, Stix said.

“Canadians pay the highest long distance rates in the world for cellphone calls. It is ridiculous for it to be as expensive as it is,” he said.

“By having us simply reroute the call over our network, which is a voice-over-internet-protocol network, similar to Skype, we are able to channel that call at fractions of a penny per minute and it doesn’t take much to cover the cost of providing the service.” The local calling charges still apply and it won’t change the terms of a regular cellphone contract, but the application is especially useful for people who travel or have children at university, he said.

The partnership for the BudPhone application is beneficial for Labatt Breweries in marketing the Budweiser brand because “one of our key demographics is that 19 to 24 year old drinker and those consumers are increasingly tech savvy,” said Ben Seaton, marketing manager for Budweiser.

It also provides those consumers with a technology that can help them to keep in touch with both their friends and family, he added.

To get the application, people register on the website, www.budphone.ca, which then sends a link to the user. They can then register their phone number and get the link to the application for their particular device.

There is also a version that can be downloaded onto regular computers that people can use to do voice-over-internet calling.  Fibernetics employs about 160 people, including about 80 in Cambridge. The company also has a call centre in the Dominican Republic and a software division in Europe. It offers a range of. other services such as business phone and high speed internet services.

“We hope that by introducing ourselves to Canada en masse through this service people will look to us for other telecom services, but there is no obligation for that,” Stix said.