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Verizon Launches Nationwide Internet Calling Service

Verizon Communications Inc., the nation's largest phone company, launched on Thursday a nationwide Internet calling service that's expected to give a major boost to the low-cost communications technology.

The New York-based company's VoiceWing service includes unlimited local and long-distance calling in the United States for a flat fee of $39.95 a month for non-Verizon subscribers. Customers can subscribe for $34.95 a month. Verizon is offering the service for $29.95 a month for the first six months to consumers who subscribe before Oct. 31.

The service, which is available in the District of Columbia and more than 130 cities in 33 states, costs less than traditional phone service because it sends voice as data packets over the Internet and the phone company's network. Subscribers need a high-speed connection and a special telephone adapter provided by Verizon, which charges a one-time set-up fee of $39.95.

Besides Internet calling, Verizon's VoiceWing service also includes voice mail, which can be accessed through a desktop or laptop; call forwarding and an address book that enables subscribers to make a call by clicking on a phone number.

Verizon is not the first phone company to offer Internet calling, often called voice over Internet protocol, or VoIP. AT&T rolled out its own service earlier this year to 100 cities for $34.99 a month and $19.99 for the first six months. Qwest Communications Inc. offers Internet calling in its region, and plans to expand to other parts of the nation by the end of the year.

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