AOL Launches Next-Gen VoIP-IM Service

By Sean Michael Kerner | Sep 20, 2005 | Print this Page
http://www.enterprisenetworkingplanet.com/unified_communications/AOL-Launches-Next-Gen-VoIP-IM-Service-3550256.htm

Instant messaging by definition is all about messaging. It's now indisputably about Voice over IP too, thanks to a new VoIP service and new Triton IM preview client announced today by America Online .

AOL said its Total Talk VoIP service, which will be available on Oct. 4 in the U.S. and Canada, offering full-featured VoIP services to broadband users of any broadband service.

Total Talk is the successor to AOL Internet Phone, which was a VoIP service just for users of AOL. Total Talk offers the typical range of of residential VoIP services such as Caller ID, E911, three-way calling and a Web-based dashboard for call and voicemail management.

Contacts tab
AIM client with dialpad.
Source: AOL

Not all of what AOL Total Talk offers is typical VoIP fare, though.

"We offer a very rich set of features that none of our competitors matches," vice president and general manager of AOL Voice Services Ragui Kamel told internetnews.com.

Kamel explained that AOL Voice Mail actually e-mails the voicemail to users as an MP3 file. Users can also be alerted to new messages via SMS messaging on their cell phones. As well, the service allows for multiple extensions running of the same phone number. "That in itself adds a huge amount of value," Kamel said.

And then there's Triton.

Total Talk uses Triton, AOL's next-generation IM client, as its softphone application. In a separate announcement today, AOL announced that it will be releasing a preview version of Triton later this week. Triton has been in beta since April.

It includes an evolving list of features not found in the general release AIM 5.9 client. Triton has been used by over 40,000 testers since it first entered beta testing. According to an AOL spokesperson, the beta period has been very successful with additional features being added to the modular client approximately every two weeks.

"If you are a registered Total Talk subscriber and you launch AIM Triton, you get a dialpad at the bottom," Kamel explained. "The softphone is integrated with the AIM AOL address book, which, in turn, has integration via Plaxo. It also provides click-to-call functionality right from the address book."

AOL announced the deal to integrate Plaxo in July. Plaxo is a Web-based contact management service that aims to keep all of a user's contacts synchronized and up to date.

The integration of Triton and Total Talk extends AOL's IM voice capability from PC-to-PC calling from computers to landlines, such as PC-to-PSTN calling or calling a mobile phone.

AOL is also expected to launch another VoIP-related product called AIM Talk Plus in the "coming soon" section of the AIM Triton Preview Edition, which will be a PC-to-Phone and Phone-to-PC service that is expected to beta test in the Triton client at the end of this year.

The new Triton preview will also include an improved Video over IM feature that internetnews.com first reported on earlier this month.

Though AOL is apparently the first to market this year with PSTN termination for IM-based VoIP (with the Total Talk integration), it's likely not the only public IM space player that will enter the space. Yahoo in June acquired VoIP-to-PSTN play Dialpad Communications and is also expected to be rolling those features into its IM client, which has recently been renamed Yahoo Messenger with Voice.

At the end of August, Microsoft bought VoIP play Teleo and is expected to integrate those features into its MSN Messenger client.