Internet telephone technology – still in its infancy – has received a shot in the arm with the announcement by VocalTec Inc of a full-duplex version of its Internet Phone software product which was launched last February (CI No 2,638). Now, users who choose the Internet to make long-distance calls can speak concurrently without the […]
Internet telephone technology – still in its infancy – has received a shot in the arm with the announcement by VocalTec Inc of a full-duplex version of its Internet Phone software product which was launched last February (CI No 2,638). Now, users who choose the Internet to make long-distance calls can speak concurrently without the speech delays associated with half-duplex Internet phone systems. Market size for Internet telephone service is not known, and Israeli VocalTec, with a Northvale, New Jersey base, isn’t revealing the size of its customer base, said Tom Maresca, analyst for Jupiter Communications. Not that many individuals at home have the standard C-SLIP, PPP or SLIP interfaces necessary for telephoning into the Internet. The software also requires users to have full-duplex sound boards in their computers capable of recording and playing back at the same time, reducing the potential customer base. However, Maresca said the market possibilities are tremendous with more than 25m Internet users and one node being added every 20 minutes. A half-duplex phone works like a walkie-talkie: only one person can be heard at a time. A full-duplex phone lets both parties speak simultaneously as with a regular handset. Existing VocalTec customers will receive a free upgrade package. Both half-duplex and full-duplex versions are compatible with each other. Retail price of the upgrade is $100, but the street value hangs at $70. The new version can be downloaded from VocalTec’s home page on the World Wide Web. VocalTec has also announced a marketing alliance with Internet access provider Netcom Corp, which supplies the NetCruiser graphical interface to the Internet. Netcom will sell the Internet Phone as part of its NetCruiser package. The company’s move to full-duplex comes, in part, in response to market pressure from competitor Camelot Corp, whose full-duplex Digiphone is expected to hit the shelves of most US computer stores by mid-July. Camelot has just signed Ingram Micro Inc, the big computer software distributor in southern California, with revenues of more than $4,000m, as the first of several planned distributors of the product.