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AT&T creates local Net telephony plan

Telecommunications giant tries to attract consumers who make few long-distance calls with a $20-per-month local plan.

AT&T on Thursday launched a local version of its VoIP service for residential customers.

The new service, CallVantage Local Plan, let people make unlimited local calls for $19.99 a month. Local toll and long-distance calls in the United States and to Canada will cost 4 cents per minute. The plan will be available Sunday.

Customers will need to buy a telephone adapter from the company and have a broadband connection. The service will include features like call waiting and three-way calling available with traditional phone service.

VoIP, or voice over Internet Protocol, lets people talk over a broadband Internet connection, avoiding regulatory fees levied on traditional phone lines. Net telephony is gaining acceptance with even traditional phone companies. Recently AT&T and another VoIP provider, Vonage, slashed their prices, heralding a virtual price war.

"The AT&T CallVantage Local Plan was designed to serve the needs of those customers who make relatively few long-distance calls, but who are looking for an economical, feature-rich, local service alternative," Cathy Martine, AT&T senior vice president for Internet telephony, said in a statement.

AT&T's original unlimited local and long-distance VoIP plan is still available for $29.99 a month.