NetZero Offers VoIP for Dial-up Users

Internet service provider NetZero entered the highly competitive VoIP market Thursday, introducing a new service called NetZero Voice that it says opens the technology to dial-up users. According to research, an estimated 45 million dial-up users still exist in the United States.

The service will allow for free computer-to-computer calls between NetZero Voice users, similar to the way Skype operates. The company will also offer a calling plan that includes free domestic long distance for a $3.95 or $14.95 USD monthly fee - depending on the amount of minutes desired.

As a promotional offer to attract customers, NetZero said it would give all new subscribers free service based on their plan for the first three months. Voice plans come with 100, 250 or unlimited minutes of calling time.

"We believe consumers should not have to have broadband Internet access in order to enjoy the price savings and feature content of Internet phone calling," said Mark R. Goldston, CEO of United Online, the company that owns NetZero.

While a broadband connection is still recommended for the best voice quality, NetZero claims that users with a 56k modem would be able to make calls successfully by using the company's proprietary technology it has created to reduce echo, latency and other issues.

Every NetZero Voice account will come with free voicemail, an e-mail address, instant messaging, along with caller ID, call waiting and blocking features. The premium plans add 2GB of e-mail storage, a personal U.S. telephone number with choice of area code, three-way calling, and call forwarding features.

Dial-up users interested in the service can download the NetZero Voice application for Windows from the company's Web site. NetZero expects to release a beta version for Apple Macintosh systems in the coming months.

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