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ICQ, Net2Phone in Multi-Million Dollar Telephony Pact

Online messaging community ICQ, Inc. announced Tuesday it entered into a four-year agreement with telephony firm Net2Phone, Inc. to offer ICQ members phone calls via the Internet.

ICQ, an America Online subsidiary, will provide branded telephony options to its members, which will be powered by Net2Phone. The companies said the alliance is worth several million, but no specific sum was disclosed.

ICQ will offer Phone-to-PC, PC-to-Phone and PC-to-PC telephony options to its users. As a promotion, the service will initially be offered free of charge for PC-to-PC calls. All that is needed is a PC with a modem, Internet access, a microphone and speakers, the companies said.

The two firms will also work together on future projects, including telephony phone cards and other services to instant messaging users.

The strategy behind the deal is to expose ICQ's estimated 38 million members to Voice over IP (VoIP) phone capabilities, said Donn Davis, COO of AOL Interactive Properties Group, which oversees the ICQ service.

"Now, ICQ members all over the world will be able to communicate with one another by talking, not just typing," Davis said.

"With Net2Phone, we will introduce ICQ members to yet another revolutionary way to use the Internet to better communicate with their friends and colleagues in a fun and affordable way."



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