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Prodigy, GTE Offer Internet Call Waiting

Help is on the way for people who tie up their only phone line while they're surfing online.

Prodigy Communications Corp. and GTE Internetworking Monday introduced an alternative to missing phone calls or installing a second telephone line.

Internet Call Manager from GTE and Prodigy allows anyone who is online to receive an instant, on-screen notification of an incoming telephone call and gives them the option to take the call.

Additionally, Prodigy is making ICM available to any Internet user interested in the service, regardless of their Internet service provider. The Internet call waiting service is available now for less than $5 each month.

ICM features a pop-up screen on the user's computer to notify them of the incoming call. ICM utilizes caller identification features, so you don't have to interrupt your Internet connection to take unwanted calls. The service provides members with a log of all calls they receive while online.

David Trachtenberg, Prodigy president and chief operating officer, said the application improves the online experience for single phone line access to the Internet.

"More than half the families online use just one phone line to access the Internet, and this is a major breakthrough for them."

According to Trachtenberg the application makes Prodigy the first national ISP to offer the service to its current subscriber base, as well as other consumers currently enrolled with other ISPs.

He said ICM is "available to anyone through Prodigy and we're there first on a national scale."

International Data Corp. reports that the market for Internet call waiting services is expected to mushroom to 21.6 million households by 2003, generating $399 million in service revenue. Over 44 percent of all single-line, online households surveyed by IDC said they are interested in subscribing to an Internet call waiting service.

Paul O'Brien, GTE Internetworking vice president and IP Telecom general manager of IP Telecom, said the nationwide deployment means that no single-line user ever has to miss another phone call.

"ICM is yet another example of how Prodigy continues to enhance their customers' online experience. Now anyone online can avoid the frustration of missed calls without having to purchase a second line."

ICM is available initially in 50 major metropolitan areas covering 62 percent of the US population and 85 percent of the online population. The service will be extended to additional markets throughout 1999.