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Networking This Week: VoIP Hits The Big Time

VoIP isn't just for the early adopters anymore, as AOL's new service shows. There's more VoIP news this week as well.

Up until this week, VoIP has gotten a lot of buzz among the tech cognoscenti, but not a whole lot of traction among consumers. Enterprises recognize its benefits, and have been gradually switching over to VoIP and converged networks. And the much-talked-about "early adopters" have signed up for VoiP services such as Vonage.

This is the week that all changed. That's because America Online launched its VoIP service in approximately 40 markets. Starting price is $29.99 per month for the first six months, and $39.99 after that. The plan includes unlimited local and long-distance calls in the U.S. and Canada, and access to the AOL service over existing broadband. AOL is after the big consumer market, not the tech elite, and so this marks the week that VoIP finally hit the big time.

AOL would do well to pay attention to, above all, convenience and usability, if they want to get people to sign up for the service in big numbers. At least that's the view of Len Lauer, president and chief operating officer of Sprint Corp., who told EE Times that convenience is key to getting people to adopt VoIP. Glenn Britt, chairman and CEO of Time Warner Cable, which rolled out VoIP service in 2004. On the other hand, convenience and usability are not two words that spring to mind when one thinks of cable service, so should we really believe him?

There was other VoIP news this week as well. Interactive Intelligence upgraded its SIP proxy server, designed for VoIP. Targeted at distributed contact centers, large enterprises and service providers, Interaction SIP Proxy 3.0 offers a range of significant security and device support enhancements.

Additionally, Samsung Electronics Co. announced that it will use Digeo Inc.'s Moxi Media Center technology in cable TV boxes -- boxes that the companies claim will rival the features of personal computers designed for living room entertainment centers.

Meanwhile, cable execs said that their companies would not block VoIP service on their networks, even though some telecom providers have already done so. At the National Cable & Telecommunications Show in San Francisco, a number of execs said the wouldn't block VoIP. And just in case they were, Congress was considering laws not allowing them to block independent services and applications, such as VoIP, by service providers.

There was, of course, other news in the networking world this week. D-Link released new Power over Ethernet (PoE) devices targeted at small and medium sized businesses. Designed to be easily installed in small to mid-sized networks, the Web Smart DES-1526 24-port Fast Ethernet PoE switch provides up to the IEEE 802.3af maximum of 15.4 watts of power per port over standard Ethernet cables.

Cisco was busy shoring up critical business partnerships. It extended its equipment trade-in rebates to its channel partners, expanded global credit capacity for partner inventory financing, and launched financing for the SMB market.

Verizon took a break from its bid to take over MCI, and paid a $75,000 fine to New York State, and agreed to stop allowing unauthorized third-party charges on its customer bills banning so-called "cramming."

Oh, yes, and the MCI soap opera continued, with MCI rejecting Qwest's $8.9 billion buyout bid, and instead stayed with a $7.5 billion offer from Verizon. After all, what's the difference of $1.2 billion between friends?

But MCI stockholders were not amused. Four major MCI shareholders publicly criticized MCI's board for favoring the smaller takeover bid from Verizon. This means, most likely, that the battle will continue. When, oh when, will the fat lady finally sing on this one?

There's more, as well, and much more coming up. To keep up with the latest, check out Networking Pipeline's News section.

Links in This Story

AOL Launches Internet Phone Service In Select Markets

Consumer Usability Seen As Key To VoIP's Success

Interactive Intelligence Upgrades SIP Proxy Server For VoIP

Samsung, Digeo Next-Gen Cable Box Includes VoIP

Cable Execs Say They're Not Blocking Outside VoIP

D-Link Targets SMBs With New Power Over Ethernet Devices

Cisco Rolls Out Trade-In Rebates For Partners, Launches SMB Lease Program

Verizon Fined; Blocks 'Cramming' Of Computer Charges On Phone Bills a>

MCI Rejects Qwest's $8.9 Billion Buyout Offer

MCI Shareholders Criticize Latest Qwest Rejection

Networking Pipeline's News section

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