IBM is moving into voice over IP, signing a deal with US Internet telephony company IDT to provide its Net2Phone voice-over-IP software to IBM Internet Connection Services customers.
The move marks increasing interest from large IT vendors in the possibilities of voice services over the Internet, for which the technology is rapidly evolving.
As a result of the partnership, business travellers will be able to place international voice calls by making a lower-priced local Internet data connection via a laptop PC, according to Mordy Rothberg, IDT's vice president of strategic development.
The arrangement calls for IBM Global Services to promote Net2Phone on its IBM Internet Connection Web page and to include the Net2Phone software in IBM's Internet access software package. In addition, IBM will place a link on its Web page directing visitors to IDT's download site for the Net2Phone software, said officials at IBM and IDT.
The deal makes IDT's Internet telephony capabilities available from IBM Global Services' approximately 1,300 local dial-up points of presence in 53 countries and covers PC-to-phone communications from overseas. Phone-to-phone and fax IP services based on the IDT software may be added later.
"We're hearing from our customers that they're interested in voice-over-IP services, and this deal lets IBM show those customers what they can do with it," said Joe Aibinder, program director of multimedia services at IBM Global Services.
One benefit of the arrangement is that business customers can save money on international calls. In addition, a single telephone line will be able to simultaneously access the Internet and place voice calls.
With the IBM/IDT service, "we see on average a 75% reduction in the price of an international long-distance call," Aibinder said.
Customers will pay a fixed rate for Internet access from IBM and an additional per-minute charge for voice calls using Net2Phone.
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