10/96 News: Intel Makes the Call On Long-Distance
By Jim Forbes
The idea of making phone calls over the Internet has been around for a while, but the technology, and certainly the practice, has been slow to take off. Software recently released by Intel could go a long way toward making it easier.
So far, the biggest hurdle has been the lack of cross-platform applications. Intel's new release, the Internet Telephone Toolkit, isn't really an application as much as a set of tools that can be used to enhance existing programs or build new applications that bridge the compatibility gap. Analysts estimate that between 1 million and 1.5 million people use Internet phone applications to place long-distance calls. The sound quality is inferior to that of conventional services, but the cost is lower since the only bill is from the local ISP.
Growing interest in using the Internet to cut phone costs, plus
software enhancements that support telephony, have already caught
the attention of U.S.-based and foreign telephone companies. Because
they believe Net-based calling will cut into their business, some
are already sponsoring legislation that could restrict use of
the Internet to place long-distance calls.