by CIO Staff

AOL to Enter VoIP Space With Free ‘AIM Phoneline’ (UPDATED)

May 05, 20063 mins

Double-exposure shot of a businesswoman using a mobile phone, binary code and statistical graphs..
Credit: Metamorworks / Getty Images

Since this story was originally reported, it has been updated to add more detail regarding AIM Phoneline’s “reputation scores.”

AOL, the Internet service provider owned by media behemoth Time Warner, will soon enter the voice-over IP (VoIP) market when it launches a new service based on its AIM instant messenger that will provide users with a free local phone number, USA Today reports.

The free phone number would be capable of receiving calls from any phone, but it could not place outgoing calls, according to USA Today. A higher-end version of the service, dubbed AIM Phone Unlimited, will allow users to pay $14.95 per month to make outgoing calls to all local and long-distance phone numbers within the United States and 30 other countries, USA Today reports.

To place calls via AIM Phone, users would need a headset connected to a computer and they’d have to be signed on to AIM via a broadband connection, according to USA Today.

The service will be available in the leading 50 U.S. markets by the end of May, USA Today reports.

Voice capabilities are not new to instant-messaging services. AIM, Yahoo and MSN already offer similar features, but John McKinley, AOL’s president of digital services, told USA Today that AIM Phone is different because it features an actual phone number, emergency services line and more.

For instance, the AIM Phone will work together with the AIM service and AOL’s e-mail function, displaying an easy-access drop-down menu at the base of the messenger and sending an e-mail whenever a voice-mail message is received, according to USA Today.

“If you are not online, a caller will listen to a personalized greeting from you, the voicemail is sent to your email inbox, and, should you want, you will get a text message on your cell phone telling you the number of the caller who left the message, the time and date of the message, and its length,” McKinley told

In addition, all callers will build “reputation scores,” which allow them to be identified by AIM Phoneline as telemarketers or other annoyances, in order to filter out unwanted calls.

AOL also plans to unveil its social networking site, AIM Pages, in May, according to USA Today, to compete with the popular Web locale, MySpace.

For related news coverage, read AOL Says Goodbye to 835K Subscribers.

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