EarthLink Rolls Out VOIP Service

EarthLink, Inc. , is letting North American’s make
unlimited Internet phone call for discounted rates to showcase its new
Dialpad-powered voice over IP (VOIP) service, officials announced Monday.

The telephony service, available at the ISP’s start page, is a value-add service
officials hope will keep EarthLink customers at EarthLink and maybe garner
them some new customers.

Until Nov. 29, EarthLink’s PC phone service is available for $9.99 a month,
with unlimited hours to calls around the world. Starting in December, the
service will cost users $9.99 for 400 minutes of PC-based telephone calls.

The trial service is available for download at a special Dialpad Web page
for the promotion (click
. Dialpad is currently in use by Cisco Systems, Inc., Genuity and
Level 3 Communications for its VOIP platform.

VOIP is a promising technology that’s been around for years, though many
people don’t know about it because of the low acceptance rate users and
business owners have given the service in the past.

While it promises to deliver providers the holy grail of Internet
services integrated voice and Internet services on the cheap IP telephony
has been plagued with quality issues that have prevented its makers from
cashing in on the product.

In addition to scratchy, hard-to-hear phone calls over the PC, VOIP
software to date has been hard to integrate with the ISPs existing service,
making it difficult to easily implement a VOIP program and get a quick
return on investment (ROI).

Brad Garlinghouse, Dialpad chief executive officer, said quality of service
is one of his company’s goals and that its VOIP service meets that commitment.

“We share EarthLink’s commitment of improving people-s lives by giving them
the ability to communicate in new and better ways,” Garlinghouse said. “We
think this partnership will be very valuable for us and EarthLink, as well
as EarthLink subscribers and visitors who will discover the convenience and
value of EarthLink Internet Calling powered by Dialpad.”

The world’s top ISPs are rushing out to get their own piece of the VOIP
pie, EarthLink’s actions are merely the latest. Both America Online and
the Microsoft Network targeted popular VOIP software company Net2Phone for
buyout, which ultimately failed, though MSN and Rhythms NetConnections use
the VOIP service as a value-add for its customers.

The five-minute length stricture placed by EarthLink and Dialpad is likely
the trial-and-error
of a similar program launched earlier this year by the Microsoft
Network and Net2Phone, another popular VOIP software company.

MSN had embedded its IP telephony service with its Instant Messaging (IM)
service, a pogrom that quickly overran Net2Phone’s bandwidth contract.

An EarthLink spokesperson said ISP will not offer real-time voice
communications on its messaging platform, and that it’s too premature to
speculate when that would be implemented.

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