AOL TotalTalk

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AOL TotalTalk

It would appear that AOL is going after the broadband VoIP market with a product called TotalTalk to be rolled out October 4th- look out Vonage and Skype! I should point out that AOL rolled out TotalTalk in Canada awhile back and now it appears they are bringing their broadband VoIP service to the U.S. Their Unlimited Calling Plan is $29.99 per month (plus taxes and additional fees) and includes unlimited domestic long distance and Canada.

Some highlights:

  • Softphone client for PC-to-PC and PC-to-PSTN (i.e. SkypeOut)
  • ATA (analog telephone adaptor) device for connecting to regular phone for Phone-to-Phone dialing
  • Voicemail
  • Video using On2 video codec for high-quality videoconferencing
  • GIPS codec for Skype-like quality (in theory)
  • IM
  • Local Plan: $18.99 per month (plus taxes and additional fees) for
    unlimited local calling, plus $.039/min for domestic long distance
  • Unlimited Calling Plan: $29.99 per month (plus taxes and additional fees) includes unlimited domestic long distance and Canada
  • Global Calling Plan: $34.99 per month (plus taxes and additional fees) includes unlimited domestic long distance plus low international rates
What the release doesn't say is what sort ATA (analog telephone adaptor) device you can use with TotalTalk, and checking www.totaltalk.com reveals an AOL page "under construction". I did some more investigating and discovered they are using what they called "TotalTalk Voice Gateway" - no doubt an OEM of one of the popular ATAs. Upon further investigation I discovered that AOL Canada's TotalTalk service is using Grandstream's ATA, since I recognized the image on AOL Canada of an ATA as the curly letter"G" of Grandstream's logo, as seen by this AOL Canada TotalTalk demo:


That's not a guarantee that AOL TotalTalk is using the Grandstream ATA, and it's possible it's not an exclusive agreement. At least we can garner from their usage of the SIP-based Grandstream ATA that AOL, that bastion of open standards (NOT!), has adopted at least one industry standard - namely SIP. I'll have to contact AOL and see if they work with other SIP-based ATAs. As part of the announcement they also announced a partnership with Pingtel, GIPS, and On2. The On2 is obviously the video codec, GIPS is obviously the audio codec and/or GIPS engine, and Pingtel I am going to assume that similar to Earthlink's Vling, AOL is using Pingtel's open-source SIP-based softphone client. Let me break out my HEX editor and disassemble the AOL softphone and see if this is the case. In the meantime, check out the news...


AOL TO BEGIN NEW VOIP SERVICE ROLL-OUT ON OCTOBER 4

Simple to Use and Affordable VoIP Service Lets Customers Make and Receive Calls Directly from Their PC Through AIM

Partnerships with Pingtel, GIPS, and On2 Bring Superior Audio and Video Quality to AOL Voice and Instant Messaging Suite

DULLES, VA, September 20, 2005 AOL announced today that it will begin its roll-out of a new VoIP service (http://www.totaltalk.com) on October 4. The TotalTalk service transforms any high-speed Internet connection into a quality phone service that is simple to use and affordable, with savings of up to 40% off monthly phone bills, compared to traditional landline service.[1] No AOL subscription is required and current AOL® Internet Phone subscribers will receive this upgrade to the new and enhanced service automatically.

AOL's expertise in providing best-in-class communications features transforms TotalTalk into a telephone service that goes beyond what is currently available today. Combining the savings and convenience of a VoIP phone with a suite of advanced communications features, available at no additional charge, TotalTalk includes: a "soft phone" (free PC-to-PC calls and PC-to-Phone calling capabilities via a Preview Edition of the AIM Triton client), unified voice, e-mail and instant messaging, enhanced voicemail and call management capabilities, and the ability to make and receive calls on a home phone line from anywhere users have access to AIM.

The service includes at no additional cost many phone features such as: Call Waiting, Caller ID, 911 emergency calling[2], Star Codes, voice mail integrated with e-mail and Three-Way calling.

A Web-based Dashboard provides flexible, easy to use call management features such as: on-screen call alerts with call handling; call forwarding preferences; at-a-glance logs of incoming and outgoing calls; a frequently called number list; click-to-call features, and integration with address books.

TotalTalk(TM) makes it possible to manage and retrieve both voice and e-mail messages, anytime, anywhere from any touchtone phone or Web browser. Voicemail messages appear together with e-mail messages, and SMS alerts can be sent to mobile devices when a voicemail is left.

By downloading the Preview Edition of the AIM Triton software, available later this week, users will have access to a "soft phone" feature that enables them to make and answer phone calls on their home line through either the phone or the PC (with an AIM connected PC headset or USB phone). The soft phone feature, accessible from anywhere a user can log onto AIM, provides easy access to AIM Talk, a free PC-to-PC calling feature that includes multi-party chat capabilities, and a built-in dial pad to make PC-to-Phone calls, which are billed at home rates. Unlike other providers, the TotalTalk service includes these soft phone capabilities at no additional charge.

AOL also announced three new partnerships to bring industry-leading audio and video conferencing to its suite of voice and instant messaging products. AOL has worked closely with open source solution provider Pingtel, Global IP Sound, and On2 on custom-developed solutions that will deliver state-of-the-art audio and video quality, simplify connections behind firewalls, and provide SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) standard compliance and more to TotalTalk and AIM.

About TotalTalk
TotalTalk transforms any high-speed Internet connection into a quality home phone service. The service includes an easy-to-connect telephone terminal adapter/broadband router, which is plugged into an ordinary touchtone telephone and a cable or digital subscriber line (DSL) modem. To place and receive calls, users just pick up the adapter-connected telephone to dial numbers. Users do not need to have their computer turned on to make calls.

Pricing is as follows:

** Local Plan: $18.99 per month (plus taxes and additional fees) for unlimited local calling, plus $.039/min for domestic long distance

** Unlimited Calling Plan: $29.99 per month (plus taxes and additional fees) includes unlimited domestic long distance and Canada

** Global Calling Plan: $34.99 per month (plus taxes and additional fees) includes unlimited domestic long distance plus low international rates

To learn more about TotalTalk, visit http://www.totaltalk.com or call 1-877-265-7732.

The TotalTalk service and features offered by AOL are only available to residents of the U.S. AOL Canada also offers an AOL TotalTalk voice over IP phone service to Canadian residents. To learn more visit http://www.totaltalk.ca.

About America Online, Inc.
America Online, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Time Warner Inc. Based in Dulles, Virginia, America Online is the world's leader in interactive services, Web brands, Internet technologies and e-commerce services.

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[1] Savings based on $29.99 unlimited local and domestic long distance plan and do not includes charges for broadband services, required equipment, additional fees, and taxes.

[2] TotalTalk E911 is different from traditional 911 service. For more information, please visit http://www.nena.org.



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