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PhoneFree.com to Revise Look, Flagship Product

Internet telephony outfit PhoneFree.com next week will raise the curtain on its redesigned Web site to go along with the introduction of version 7.0 of its multimedia communications software.

Higher quality Internet calling and video applications notwithstanding, Version 7.0 will also feature a sound quality monitor which includes an echo suppression control and a firewall "sniffer" that will alert people to whether or not they are operating behind a firewall.

The software also has included something unique in the form of embedded HTML code, which allows users to surf the Web while talking on the phone without having to access a separate browser.

The fully redesigned site introduces PhoneFree.com users to its new "Talk Shop" store interface with an expanded portfolio of products. Additionally, PhoneFree.com's 'The Source' will be introduced as a resource center for the latest news and information, special features and promotional offerings. Both PhoneFree.com's 'Talk Shop' and 'The Source' are immediately-accessed HTML pages within the user's 'Personal Communications Center.'

Jan Robert Horsfall, president and chief executive officer of PhoneFree.com, told InternetNews.com that because his firm's technology is proprietary, or created on site, it should further the firm's push to stay ahead of rivals such as DialPad.com Inc. and Net2Phone Inc.

"Version 7.0 is a reflection of PhoneFree.com's excellence in software design and engineering," said Horsfall. "I would say that our multimedia software is the most sophisticated consumer application on the Web."

"Our technology is complex and is very difficult to replicate," he continued. "We have a distinct advantage in that we can always bolt on new technology. Net2Phone and DialPad license a lot of their voice services and offer no video."

Horsfall also said PhoneFree.com's model was unique in that users can choose from about 240 countries around the world to call, and that because the firm doesn't rely on networks or underground infrastructure, his business can undercut telcos by 96 percent in some cases.

According to a recent Media Metrix study, PhoneFree.com bypassed Dialpad.com in unique visitors last month, making it the leader of the Internet telephony pack in terms of traffic to their domain and application.

In September, 1,578,000 different people came to the site, a 200,000 visitor increase from August. PhoneFree.com is also the top gun in terms of average daily visitors to the site/application -- 179,000 people visited the site per day in August.

Another important yardstick to measure Net telephony plays by is the average minutes per month. Media Metrix said people spend 43.9 minutes per month visiting PhoneFree.com and the application, numbers that dwarf DialPad's average user time of 30 minutes and totally eclipsing Net2Phone's rate of 8 minutes per month per user.

PhoneFree.com, which targets mainly consumers and some small business ventures, is a portfolio company of eVentures Group and is led by a group by former members of Lycos' marketing team, including Horsfall.

Because most of the firm's revenue is generated from products, equipment, and services, the firm can offer free PC-to-Phone calling to and within the U.S., free PC-to-PC calling anywhere in the world and fee-based global PC-to-Phone.



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