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Networking This Week: VoIP Hits The Big Time

Up until this week, VoIP has gotten a lot of buzz among the tech cognoscenti, but not a whole lot of traction among consumers. Enterprises recognize its benefits, and have been gradually switching over to VoIP and converged networks. And the much-talked-about "early adopters" have signed up for VoiP services such as Vonage.

This is the week that all changed. That's because America Online launched its VoIP service in approximately 40 markets. Starting price is $29.99 per month for the first six months, and $39.99 after that. The plan includes unlimited local and long-distance calls in the U.S. and Canada, and access to the AOL service over existing broadband. AOL is after the big consumer market, not the tech elite, and so this marks the week that VoIP finally hit the big time.

AOL would do well to pay attention to, above all, convenience and usability, if they want to get people to sign up for the service in big numbers. At least that's the view of Len Lauer, president and chief operating officer of Sprint Corp., who told EE Times that convenience is key to getting people to adopt VoIP. Glenn Britt, chairman and CEO of Time Warner Cable, which rolled out VoIP service in 2004. On the other hand, convenience and usability are not two words that spring to mind when one thinks of cable service, so should we really believe him?

There was other VoIP news this week as well. Interactive Intelligence upgraded its SIP proxy server, designed for VoIP. Targeted at distributed contact centers, large enterprises and service providers, Interaction SIP Proxy 3.0 offers a range of significant security and device support enhancements.

Additionally, Samsung Electronics Co. announced that it will use Digeo Inc.'s Moxi Media Center technology in cable TV boxes -- boxes that the companies claim will rival the features of personal computers designed for living room entertainment centers.

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