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Skype, Voiceglo say consumers see the light

The two Internet phone services reach customer milestones--a sign to some that VoIP no longer intimidates consumers.

Start-up Skype announced Wednesday that it has reached the 1 million mark for simultaneous users of its peer-to-peer telephone software.

Meanwhile, Voiceglo--a phone service available wherever there's an Internet connection--said it is approaching 2 million customers.

Such milestones are a sign, to some, that Internet telephony, otherwise known as voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), no longer intimidates consumers. That's an important step if these services, which generally require a broadband connection, are to ever reach a more mainstream audience.

"An average monthly growth rate of 122 percent is an example of how quickly consumers are starting to understand that VoIP is becoming a viable phone alternative," Voiceglo said in a statement.

VoIP uses the Internet, rather than the heavily regulated and taxed traditional telephone network. As a result, unlimited calling plans can be extremely inexpensive. The 10-year-old technology was once the realm of geek chic, but advances over the years have made it simpler to use; it requires less additional equipment all the time. In the cases of Voiceglo and Skype, no additional equipment is required.

The GloPhone service, introduced nine months ago by Voiceglo, uses Web browsers, so it is available to any personal computer anywhere there's an Internet connection. About 12 million people now routinely use Skype's free peer-to-peer software for chatting on their PCs and personal digital assistants. As a result of their designs, both Voiceglo and Skype have a large base of potential customers.