AOL Readies VOIP Service

America Online has announced it will offer a new Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) service starting October 4, entering a heated race for Internet-based telephone services. The service, called TotalTalk, will enable calls to be placed using a computer and standard telephone hardware together by connecting a telephone line and a cable or DSL modem to a broadband router. Users do not need to have AOL as their Internet access provider, according to a company description of the service.

TotalTalk will be "a little bit of a paradigm shift for telephone service" for subscribers, as it will allow the mobility to take a phone line anywhere, said Anne Bentley, an AOL spokesperson. Through the company's next version of AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), code-named Triton, users will be able to answer calls to their home phone from other computers, forward calls to their cell phones, and direct them to their voicemail. The service's "dashboard" feature will integrate its messenger and dialing software along with voicemail, Bentley said.

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