AOL's Muffled Voice

TotalTalk VoIP service aims to meld e-mail, instant messaging, and phone functions. But the technology doesn't match its ambition

Editor's Rating:

The Good: Interwoven e-mail, phone, and Instant Messenger

The Bad: Setup could be a headache. Beware of glitches

The Bottom Line: Fine for bug-tolerant early adopters. Others should hold off

There's a saying among telecom execs: It's not easy to provide phone service. I'd never fully appreciated these words until I tried America Online's new TotalTalk voice-over-Internet-protocol (VoIP) service, which allows for inexpensive, over-the-Web calling (see BW Online, 12/7/05, "Good Call, Comcast"). It's priced at $29.99 a month, with the first month free, for unlimited local and long-distance calling.

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