Via~fon, an operator of pre-paid phone services, has partnered with Your Communications and C3 to launch UniKit, a low cost phone and Internet service for university and college students. The service enables students to keep in touch with friends and families directly from their own rooms. Students pay for calls in advance, which means there is no worry of running up huge phone bills they cannot pay.
UniKit is to be marketed and sold by Via~fon. Your Communications will work with universities and colleges to provide handsets, additional PBXs and telephony connectivity – while C3 will supply Interactive Voice Response (IVR) platforms to run the pre-paid applications. The C3 equipment is used to verify the identity of students using the service and to monitor calling activity for billing purposes.
Via~fon Limited and its sister company Servitel have many years’ experience of operating pre-paid calling services. In the military sector, for example, Servitel’s Kit Card (branded ‘Keep in Touch’) has proven to be a runaway success with British Service personnel in the UK and Germany.
“This is an exciting new venture for Via~fon and an extremely strong partnership” said John Smallthwaite. “We’ve received great support from C3 and Your Communications and look forward to the future with confidence”.
UniKit is competitively priced and provides many advanced telephony features such as automated voice mail and follow-me (a service which allows students, if they are unable to answer the phone, to forward calls to voicemail or to an alternative phone such as a mobile or a home phone). Via~fon’s services can even be extended to parents of students, enabling them to make calls to their children at British Universities at much reduced rates from many countries.
Via~fon is currently evaluating the provision of broadband connections for Internet access to Students as well as working with C3 to develop additional value-added services for telephone quizzes and games on-line. Within 6 months, for example, the two companies are looking to introduce Video over the Internet services – enabling students to see – and be seen – by their parents as they talk.
There are no initial installation charges for using the UniKit service. Once students have signed up and phone/ Internet connections activated, they simply call into the main UniKit service number. After listening to an automated greeting, they enter their account details using the telephone keypad to obtain dial tone.
Students can top up their accounts by either dialling the main UniKit service number using a credit card or by purchasing pre-paid calling cards from card vending machines or shops located within the campus. Using the pre-paid card method, students must dial into the main UniKit service number and top up their accounts by entering the PIN numbers printed on the cards using the telephone keypad. Pre-paid call minutes can be used for making calls or accessing the internet.