In a twist on the current interest in Internet phones, Micom Communications is ready to give companies free long-distance phone service over their intranets with its Voice Over IP (V/IP) gateway.
V/IP, which debuts in September at the Networld+Interop trade show in Atlanta, provides intra-company telephone and fax connections over any private Internet-protocol LAN or WAN, regardless of the underlying network technology. Network users simply dial an access code on their telephones to switch to the company data network and punch in a colleague's telephone number, even for a branch office in another country.
"You shouldn't be able to distinguish the difference in quality between a normal phone conversation and a voice conversation on a private network that has data traffic zipping along it," said Micom director of marketing and communications Mike Griesgraber.
Unlike the spate of Internet telephony products now hitting the market, V/IP is not client software that mimics a telephone interface. Instead, it uses a standard PC card on one shared PC per network site. The PC card serves as the interface between the company's data network and the existing phone network.
The system can be used to place long distance calls from a company's private network out over the Internet, but calls will be charged from the point at which they leave the private network. Micom recommends using V/IP over the Internet only for faxes, as two-way voice conversation over the Internet is often marred by a delay of several seconds.
V/IP will initially be available this year for analog phone systems and IP networks running NetWare or DOS. Compatibility with digital phone systems and with Windows 95/NT networks is planned for early 1997.
Pricing for voice and fax support will be approximately $1,500 per card and will be finalized by the N+I announcement.