AT&T, Vonage Expand Voice Over IP
AT&T and Vonage have announced new voice-over-Internet-protocol (VoIP) products, with AT&T rolling out residential VoIP service to parts of Texas and New Jersey and Vonage planning to offer a Wi-Fi-based VoIP phone later this year.
AT&T Adds CallVantage
AT&T on Tuesday announced VoIP CallVantage Service in the Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston areas of Texas, after announcing service to parts of northern New Jersey on Monday. The company plans to roll out the CallVantage service to 100 U.S. markets by the end of the year and expects 1 million customers by the end of 2005.
Customers must have a broadband connection, such as a cable modem or DSL, to use the CallVantage Service. AT&T will offer the service at an introductory rate of $20 monthly for unlimited local and long-distance calls through May 31, and for $40 monthly after that.
AT&T representatives trumpeted the features that VoIP service can offer, including a "do-not-disturb" feature, personal conferencing with up to nine additional callers, and a "locate-me" feature to enable home phones to find the customer by ringing up to five other phones.
"The thing customers are finding most useful is the ability to have their calls go to a lot of different phones--office, home, cell, all at once, or in sequence," said Cathy Martine, senior vice president of AT&T Internet Telephony, during a speech at the Voice on the Net conference in Santa Clara, California.
Vonage Supports Wi-Fi
Vonage, which claims more than 100,000 residential and small-business VoIP customers, made no formal announcement but plans to offer a Wi-Fi phone to its customers by the third quarter or early fourth quarter. Vonage customers now convert their traditional telephones to VoIP phones by using a digital phone adapter, but a Wi-Fi phone will give Vonage customers a second option, according to Brooke Schulz, vice president of corporate communications for Vonage.
The Wi-Fi phones will look much like cellular phones, but Vonage anticipates that customers will use them primarily at home, Schulz said. Customers could also use the Wi-Fi phones to make phone calls when they're near Wi-Fi hot spots, she said.
Vonage is currently looking at Wi-Fi phones from a couple of vendors, she added.
Asked whether Vonage is considering the Wi-Fi phones because of VoIP competition from companies like AT&T, Schulz said that the competition has no effect on the plan.
"We've been looking at this for seven or eight months, long in advance of AT&T saying they're getting into this," she said.
Stephen Lawson contributed to this report.