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Intel pushes voice onto networks

Intel is working with three firewall vendors so Internet phone calls make it through corporate security checkpoints.

Hoping to pave the way for adoption of its communications products, Intel (INTC) is working with three firewall vendors so Internet phone calls can make it through corporate security checkpoints.

Cisco Systems (CSCO), Check Point Software (CHKCF), and Trusted Information Systems (TISX) said they will deliver standards-based firewalls this year so Internet callers don't busy signals.

"Intel is promoting the adoption of the H.323 standard in firewall products so that Internet phone calls can be placed in a business-to-business or business-to-customer setting," said Craig Kinnie, vice president and general manager of Intel's Internet and communications group, in a statement. (Intel is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network.)

Intel is also hoping that widespread adoption of the H.323 standard will make it easier for users to adopt its own Net telephony gear. The company helped develop the standard and has convinced other vendors, including Microsoft, to adopt it in their products.

Once the new firewalls are delivered, business users will be able to send and receive phone calls, both audio and video, over the Net and through company firewalls while keeping their corporate computing networks secure.

Corporate firewalls are designed to safeguard sensitive corporate data by blocking incoming traffic unless it meets criteria set by a corporate security policy. To allow Internet phone or videoconferencing calls through a firewall, the firewall software must be adapted to let such transmissions, in this case ones that comply with the H.323 communications standard, pass on through.

Intel said it will work with other firewall vendors, too, if they wish to adapt their products to allow Internet telephony. Intel worked with Check Point and Cisco engineers to support the H.323 standard, a multimedia standard for Internet communications. TIS is licensing Intel code, for a fee, to comply with H.323.

CheckPoint said version 3.0 of its FireWall-1, due to ship this month, will support Internet telephony.

At next week's Internet World trade show in Los Angeles, Intel and Cisco will demonstrate Internet telephony through Cisco's PIX Firewall family. Cisco will conduct trials with Intel next quarter. TIS's Gauntlet family of firewalls will allow Internet telephony later this year.