With the likes of Telecom Corp of New Zealand Ltd starting trials of Internet telephony, acceptance of the quirky technology that enables you to make a phone call anywhere in the world for the price of a local call is progressing apace, and now Rockville, Maryland-based Latic Communications Inc is making the technology the basis of an institutionalized service offering 50% off standard rates – initially on only two expensive but frequently-used routes. The company says its customers will be initially able to place high-quality, low-cost phone calls between Tokyo and Washington, and San Jose and Washington, over the Internet. Domestic US rates are expected to be as low as 5 to 6 cents per minute, international rates as low as 15 cents per minute. To invoke the service, the caller uses any touchtone phone to dial a local number to get to the Latic server, followed by a six-digit Personal Identification Number and the number of the person they are calling. Latic plans to seek out other international routes where deploying the technology will provide its customers with the biggest savings when they call via its servers in San Jose and Washington, with the Pacific Rim looking the most promising. International facsimile service will also be offered this spring. As well as using the benefits of the Internet, Latic claims to have dramatic new compression and transmission technologies, on which it has applied for patents, and these are said to condense 240 two-way conversations into a T-1 Internet channel, which would otherwise carry only 24 calls, without sacrificing quality. The company plans to franchise the idea so that investors of all sizes can establish nodes to offer the Latic service to consumers in the surrounding area.