Blackstone Launches Prepaid
By Tara Seals
Calling Card Inc. added prepaid online traffic school to its suite of prepaid
products and services. The service is available in Florida and will roll out
nationwide by the third quarter.
"Approximately 3.5 million
tickets are issued each year in the state of Florida, of which only 500,000
drivers attend traffic school to adjudicate the ticket," says Mike Acton,
Blackstone’s general manager. "The main reason for not taking advantage of
traffic school is convenience, people don’t have the time to attend four hours
of traffic school. Prepaid online traffic school eliminates this issue as the
student attends traffic school on the Internet, in the comfort of his or her
home, at his or her convenience!"
The state-certified, four-hour
course will be available for $35, through a variety of distribution methods,
including physical cards, PINs via the Blackstone point-of-sale terminal, PINs
via the Blackstone Web site or by vending machine. The student purchases the
product, accesses the Internet and the Web site indicated on the card, enters a
PIN and attends the online course. The course is available round-the-clock, and
a user can take it as many times as needed to pass.
In Florida, the course includes the
entire curriculum of the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles traditional
traffic schools. There are a total of eight chapters. At the end of each chapter
attendees take a short quiz, and there is a cumulative final exam. After
passing, registrants receive an e-mailed confirmation of course completion, and
then receive a certificate in the mail. Attendees are responsible for ensuring
their county courts receive the certificates and all other information needed
For Florida, a certificate of course
completion means an 18 percent reduction in fines, no license points for the
violation and no insurance increases.
"We fervently believe that with
the advent of prepaid online traffic school, we will be able to improve the
safety of the roadways," says Gregg Berrian, president of Traffic Academy
Inc., Blackstone’s partner for the service.
Blackstone and Traffic Academy also
offer a $35 prepaid driver’s license test for teens.
AT&T Partners with Best
Western for Travel Card Offer
Best Western hotel company has launched a virtual, prepaid travel card, good for
hotel charges. For every $100 users load on the card, they also receive a
100-minute calling card from AT&T Corp.
The travel card can be used to cover
hotel charges at about 4,000 Best Western hotels worldwide. The card is
available in U.S. and Canadian dollars, and in Euros.
The travel card is available for
purchase or reloading online at www.travelcard.bestwestern.com,
at Best Western hotels, through a travel agent or by phone in the United States,
Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. The travel and calling cards can be shipped
overnight or e-mailed to the recipient.
Cybertel Launches Global Prepaid
Cybertel Communications Corp. has
launched a global prepaid calling card it claims offers rates lower than retail
The card uses the Dancris Telecom
network to deliver service and will be available in every major market in North
America. The cards will compete with those available in discount outlets,
including "members only" programs such as those at Sam’s Club and
Costco. The rates will be particularly affordable to China and the Pacific Rim,
the company says, because Dancris has a joint venture in Beijing, China, and
trades minutes with China Unicom, the second largest telecommunications company
in China. The carrier also has plans to build a voice over IP network in 32
places throughout China.
Cybertel offers long-distance,
personal toll-free numbers, calling cards and other telecommunications services,
including value-added services for business.
Orange UK Offers Real-Time
Prepaid Wireless Data
Orange UK, Britain’s largest
wireless operator, will offer its 13.1 million customers home network-based,
prepaid data services billed in real time.
The GPRS services, based on
WaterCove Networks Inc.’s Mobile Data Service System, include mobile e-mail,
Internet access, alerts and photo messaging, and are the first to be offered in
a prepaid but real-time environment, says the carrier.
In July 2002, research firm Analysys
reported prepaid customers comprise 63 percent of subscribers in Western Europe.
The group predicts European operators could sacrifice as much as $15.7 billion
dollars in lost revenue if they fail to offer Europe’s 170 million prepaid
subscribers new mobile data services.
In addition to providing the
efficient management and accounting of prepaid subscribers’ data usage and
debiting credit accounts in real time, the WaterCove system provides real-time
metering, which helps operators protect against revenue loss due to fraud.
telcoBlue Adds Brazil to Country
telcoBlue Inc. has added Brazil as a
destination country for its PC-originated "Connectivity+," an IP voice
service. Callers can use their PCs to dial anyone with a regular telephone in
Rio de Janiero or Sao Paolo, using telcoBlue’s prepaid calling card, which is
available at the company Web site. Rates are as little as 3.6 cents a minute
with no origination or administrative fees.
Purchasers of telcoBlue prepaid
calling cards also may use their PCs to recharge their accounts, check account
balances and access call history details.
The Federal Communications
Commission estimates U.S. callers spend about $300 million a year on long
distance, using 650 million minutes of network time. That works out to an
average cost of 46 cents per minute over conventional telephone systems.
telcoBlue says it achieves low rates
by using voice over IP and by selecting high-traffic destinations. A large call
load allows the company to negotiate more favorable last-mile costs for the
switches and cabling necessary to terminate calls to existing phone numbers.
AT&T Corp. www.att.com
Blackstone Calling Card Inc. www.blackstoneonline.com
China Unicom www.chinaunicom.com.hk
Cybertel Communications Corp. www.cybertelcorp.com
Dancris Telecom www.dancris.com
Orange UK www.orange.com
telcoBlue Inc. www.telecoblue.com
WaterCove Networks Inc. www.watercove.com