Verizon's Net phone service 'imminent'

The launch would make Verizon the largest traditional phone company yet to enter the growing VoIP market.

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By Ben Charny
Staff Writer, CNET

Verizon Communications is expected to soon launch a nationwide Internet phone calling service, making it the largest traditional phone company yet to enter this growing market, analysts and executives said recently.

The nationwide service could be launched as soon as Friday, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. Verizon executives described the launch only as "imminent," when asked for a timetable during their last public appearances.

Verizon's plans call for the use of (VoIP) technology, which sends calls over the Internet, which is unregulated, instead of the traditional phone network, which is expensive, heavily taxed and regulated. As a result, the plans are much cheaper than traditionally dialed calls, and they usually offer premium services like caller identification for free. A connection is required for VoIP, though.

Many of the features Verizon will offer are commonplace for VoIP plans now sold by cable operators, other Bell companies and long-distance provider AT&T, to name just a few.

For example, Verizon lets VoIP subscribers "bring their own broadband," rather than requiring a high-speed Net connection from Verizon, according to . AT&T's CallVantage VoIP plans is also bring-your-own broadband.

Verizon VoIP users will have access to several common VoIP services, including access to voice mail over the Internet; call forwarding to any number of different phones at different times; and access to address books over any broadband connection; and access to call logs, again, over any broadband connection, to calls received and dialed.

The initial service offering is the first of two VoIP plans that Verizon will offer. The initial VoIP service is expected to be priced at $35 to $40 a month.

A more expensive plan, which shuttles calls over Verizon's own broadband network, will debut sometime later this year, Verizon executives say.

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