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AOL Wants to be Your Phone Company

Techstination feature for Thursday, April 14, 2005

AOL wants to be your phone company. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. As America Online continues to lose subscribers to its dial-up Internet service, it's looking for new ways to make money from people who are switching to high speed broadband connections. The latest…voice over IP telephone service…competing with Vonage, Verizon and others. Jim Tobin is AOL's vice president for advanced voice services…

"Our key differentiators will be the level of integration between what I'll call the data world and the voice world. So you can see all of your voice mail as email. You can also hear your email as a voice mail. Every time a call comes in, you see an alert that comes up on your screen that allows you to handle the call in different ways. You can produce different responses to people. More importantly, you can transfer the call as it's occurring to the most convenient place for you as a user. You can pick it up on your home phone, you can take it on your PC, you can also forward it to your mobile phone, all on the fly."

AOL has launched the service initially in 40 cities….at discount prices for the first three months of as low as 14 dollars a month. The service will be expanded….and AOL may also offer its features to other voice over IP companies…

"So as we look at ways that America Online can grow, it's a natural for us to look at telephony as big new source of growth. So the expectations are very high for our pursuits in this business."

Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.