EarthLink offers call waiting

EarthLink, like its rival America Online, starts selling a service that lets dial-up Web subscribers know about incoming calls while they're online.

Ben Charny
Ben Charny Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Ben Charny
covers Net telephony and the cellular industry.
EarthLink on Wednesday began offering dial-up Web subscribers a "call waiting" service that lets them know about incoming calls they miss while Web surfing.

The Web provider's new service stops short of solving one of the chief drawbacks of a dial-up account: it ties up a home's telephone line so incoming calls don't get through.

But with the service, incoming calls will trigger a computer-screen dialog box with a caller's telephone number. Callers can also record voice mail messages up to three minutes long, which Web surfers can access through their computers.

"You never know what you missed while online," said EarthLink spokesman Jerry Grasso. "This lets you know."

EarthLink's Internet Call Waiting costs $4 a month and includes voice mail. Its $8 a month Internet Call Waiting Pro lets callers also block telemarketers and transfer incoming calls to another number, such as a cell phone.

America Online offers similar services that it plans to expand later this year.