RealTime IT News

Verizon Launches Call Management Service

In another move aimed at winning the loyalty of tech-savvy, on-the-go consumers, Verizon launched Iobi Home, a call management service that promises closer ties among the phone, Internet and PC.

Iobi (pronounced eye-oh-bee) subscribers can receive voice messages from a landline or cell phone as an e-mail or text message on a PDA or laptop. They can also redirect messages to a different phone. Iobi can also pull up a map of the location from where a new call is coming.

Users can manage these features through Iobi's management portal, which can be accessed through any Internet-connected computer or by calling a toll-free voice-recognition portal.

"You don't need to be at home to manage the calls that come into your home," Eric Rabe, a Verizon spokesman, told reporters during a conference call today.

Iobi Home is available now to Verizon residential customers throughout New England for $7.95 per month. The company recommends users also have Verizon Home Voice Mail. Verizon will phase the service into its other markets, with the goal of complete coverage by spring.

The company is also preparing two business versions of the service: Iobi Professional for small and medium businesses; and Iobi Enterprise for corporate clients.

Today's launch is the latest targeting consumers. Earlier this month, Verizon boosted DSL speeds to appeal to customers who work from home, play multi-player games and e-mail pictures and other large content files.

The company has also been pushing hard on Voice over IP , which it has rolled out to consumers ahead of businesses, as well as fiber-to-the premises , which promises the speed and capacity for a wealth of services, including video.

New offerings stave off competition from cable operators and telecom upstarts like VoIP specialist Vonage; while at the same time locking in customers to multiple services. In fact, many of the calling management features of Iobi Home mirror those offered by other VoIP providers.

Verizon sketched the outlines of Iobi Home in January as part of its roadmap to bring customers new broadband and wireless services. Today's announcement fills in pricing, availability and service details.