Primus Telecommunications Canada Inc. is stepping up efforts to win a greater share of the business and residential telephony markets. The Toronto-based company, primarily known for its long distance services, last week launched a business Voice over IP service and a "traditional" residential local telephony offering, which not only round out the operator’s service portfolio, but are also designed to increase the company’s share of the Canadian telecommunications services market. Ted Chislett, president and COO of Primus Canada, tells Network Letter that adding new services to the company’s portfolio is part of its plan to offer as many types of services as possible. "I think the local phone service we’re launching has got a broader appeal in the short term," he says, adding that with about a million long distance customers, there is also potential to add many to the local residential plan. "If you look at where we are today, 85% of our revenue comes from the long distance market, which is (about) a $2.5 billion market. The local market residentially is $4 billion so it more than doubles our addressable market we have out there. A million customers have chosen Primus for long distance because of the value and the savings. They can now choose us for local as well … but certainly we hope that there will be a number of those. They’ve selected us for long distance and we’d hope they select us for local as well." Primus is turning up the heat on the competition through competitive rate packages. Basic service with call display, call answer and call waiting is priced at $35.95 per month compared to $44 with Bell Canada in Toronto and $41 with TELUS Communications Inc. in Vancouver. The company is also offering an unlimited bundle, which includes basic service, all calling features and unlimited long distance calling in Canada and the United States for $54.95. This, according to the company, compares to an estimated cost of well over $90 per month compared to an incumbent offering. The company quotes a January 2004 Decima Research Inc. survey which found that 25% of Canadians who had not already selected a provider other than an incumbent would probably or definitely switch their service from their current provider (NL, March 3/04). Of those interested in switching nearly three-quarters said price would be the most important factor in any decision to switch local carriers. Primus will resell its local services on Allstream Corp.’s network, and Chislett says it was a logical choice because Primus purchased Allstream’s local residential customer base when Allstream decided to focus on the large enterprise segment. "If you look at what they’ve done over the last few years, they’ve spent a fair amount of money putting in place a national network to provide local service to large corporations and we’re able to leverage off that investment to use it to provide local service to consumers." Expanding Talkbroadband for business communityChislett explains to NL that its latest Talkbroadband for business offering is a complement to the initial residential and small office home office (SOHO) Talkbroadband service unveiled in January. It allows the company to expand its addressable customer base from the SOHO market to small- and medium-sized businesses with multiple phone lines. "It’s got some pretty attractive capabilities, especially for (companies) with multiple offices where they have long distance between their offices. We can basically establish a Talkbroadband IP VPN so all your calls and all your offices’ calls are at no charge. That has some pretty substantial savings for companies with multiple offices and I can even see that extending into their supply chain, major customers and it would be free of charge," explains Chislett. Primus also cites an Environics Research Group survey that states that 69% of small- and medium-sized business (SMB) managers would be very or somewhat likely to switch to VoIP technology if it offered a 25% savings over their current telephone bills. The research also notes that 44% of SMBs believe they have little choice but to accept telephone service from their current provider. Service starts at $27.95 per month and is available in 15 markets across the country.