By Chris Nicholls

SYDNEY: JB Hi-Fi has signed an exclusive deal with Australian VoIP services and handset manufacturer Freshtel to distribute their internet phone products across the country.

The agreement gives JB Hi-Fi the rights to sell the Freshtel branded phones in over 50 of their stores. JB Hi-Fi will conduct advertising and point of sale promotion of the product.

Freshtel’s deal follows on from an existing arrangement with supermarket chain Tesco in the UK, where the company sells its VoIP phones and the supermarkets offer landline-style phone contracts. The system relies on Freshtel’s new ‘V2’ network infrastructure.

JB Hi-Fi marketing director Scott Browning said the company saw internet telephony as an “exciting opportunity”.

“Freshtel’s … range of products and the success of the Tesco Internet Phone in the UK … demonstrated that they have the ability and approach to help us make this agreement a success,” he said.

Freshtel chief executive Rhonda O’Donnell said the agreement meant the company could extent its local reach. It differed from other models in that it allowed Freshtel to sell the phones under their own brand, rather than let JB Hi-Fi brand the products themselves.

“The beauty of this arrangement is that it allows Freshtel to focus on its core business of developing internet telephony solutions and capitalise on the brand and retail presence and marketing expertise of our partners to distribute the product.”

The agreement will see Freshtel establish information and point of sale material to allow JB to sell call plans and credit in-store.

Freshtel said phones will be in some JB Hi-Fi stores before Christmas, with a full roll-out towards the end of Q1 2008.