AOL Announces VoIP Service Minus Details - InformationWeek

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AOL Announces VoIP Service Minus Details

"Welcome! You've got VoIP." That was the message from America Online via the VON Spring 2005 conference, where chief executive Jon Miller officially announced the "AOL Internet Phone Service," with pricing and availability details to follow in the next 30 days.

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Welcome! You've got VoIP.

That was the message America Online sent to the world Tuesday via the VON Spring 2005 conference here, where AOL chief executive Jon Miller officially announced the "AOL Internet Phone Service," with pricing and availability details to follow in the next 30 days.

"It's really time" for Voice over IP services, Miller said, during a keynote address to several thousand VON attendees. While admitting that AOL knows that "there's a lot we don't know, a lot of hurdles and questions," Miller was confident that his company's history of successfully bringing communications technology to the mass markets would continue in the VoIP space.

Specifically, Miller said AOL will look to bring more than just replacement telephone service to VoIP, instead building on its e-mail and instant-messaging expertise to bring more functionality to voice communications.

"We think [VoIP] can be much broader," Miller said. "there's a totally different opportunity by integrating presence. You can screen the call, take the call, or send an instant message -- your buddy list becomes a dashboard [for action]."

Miller said AOL's version of VoIP would be "regulatory compliant," meaning it will work out of the box with support for features like dialing to the public switched telephone network, and to 911 emergency services.

While he didn't deliver important specifics about pricing or availability, Miller said AOL Internet Phone Service will first be offered to current AOL customers. AOL said it will buy wholesale VoIP services from Level3, and also announced a partnership with Sonus Networks Inc. for VoIP back-end networking equipment and infrastructure.

AOL's entry into the VoIP market had been widely expected, and the company itself noted that it has already offered limited voice services in Canada and parts of Europe. The company said as part of its service it will provide an adapter box so that customers can use regular phones to access the VoIP service.

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