The online service will announce a licensing deal Monday with VocalTec for its Net phone software that will let CompuServe subscribers make telephone calls via the Internet.
"We anticipate that the deal will be done on Monday," said a spokeswoman for CompuServe. "We're very confident that it will close."
CompuServe, the number-two online service, will be the first such service to provide telephony software to users.
VocalTec released its InternetPhone in February 1995. The phone allows users to have long-distance conversations with other InternetPhone users for the price of an Internet connection to a local server. Now VocalTec is getting ready to upgrade with a new system called the Internet Phone Telephony Gateway that will let users also call regular telephones via the Net, still for the cost of connecting to a local Internet server.
The Gateway will be delivered as a PC running Windows 95 with a Dialogic telephony card and an Internet connection through a 28.8-kbps modem or faster. The Gateway will establish the connections between the user's PC and the public switched telephone network and could also handle calls to cellular phones. Costs would be limited to the telephone charges of linking to the Net on either side of the connection.
The company expects to ship the system in the second quarter but has not yet set pricing.
VocalTec and other companies face opposition from America's Carriers Telecommunication Association, a trade group representing 130 telecommunication providers that has filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission to halt the sale of Web phones.