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Intel launches Net phone software

Intel will announce Internet Phone, software for making long distance calls online.

Intel is getting into the telephone business.

The company will today announce Internet Phone, free software for making long distance calls over the Internet that improves the quality of connections and allows callers to find each other easily online.

Internet Phone will be the first software to use an emerging telecommunications standard called H.323 that promises improved audio connections over the Internet. More than 120 companies already back the standard, including Microsoft which plans to integrate a similar product, called NetMeetings, into Windows 95 this fall.

Analysts expect demand for Internet telephony to grow exponentially because it dramatically slashes the cost of long distance calling. Users pay only for a connection to their Internet service provider. But quality of service has been poor, due to limited bandwidth, and finding other users online has been difficult.

Intel's software, which will be posted to the company's Web site beginning Wednesday, includes H.323 support for improved voice quality, and technology that automatically registers a user's current address with an Internet directory service, allowing callers to more easily make connections. Internet Phone runs on Windows 95 and works with Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Netscape Communications' Navigator browser.

Intel is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network.