ad info




CNN.com
 MAIN PAGE
 WORLD
 ASIANOW
 U.S.
 LOCAL
 POLITICS
 WEATHER
 BUSINESS
 SPORTS
 TECHNOLOGY
   computing
   personal technology
   space
 NATURE
 ENTERTAINMENT
 BOOKS
 TRAVEL
 FOOD
 HEALTH
 STYLE
 IN-DEPTH

 custom news
 Headline News brief
 daily almanac
 CNN networks
 CNN programs
 on-air transcripts
 news quiz

  CNN WEB SITES:
CNN Websites
 TIME INC. SITES:
 MORE SERVICES:
 video on demand
 video archive
 audio on demand
 news email services
 free email accounts
 desktop headlines
 pointcast
 pagenet

 DISCUSSION:
 message boards
 chat
 feedback

 SITE GUIDES:
 help
 contents
 search

 FASTER ACCESS:
 europe
 japan

 WEB SERVICES:
COMPUTING

From...
PC World

Internet call waiting turns one phone line into two

August 13, 1999
Web posted at: 12:20 p.m. EDT (1620 GMT)

by Yardena Arar

(IDG) -- Brring! Click. Crash. That's the sound of an Internet connection dying when an incoming voice call activates call waiting. The caller will get through, all right -- but there goes your 10MB file download. Some modems ignore the call-waiting signal, and you can always turn the feature off. But then you're back to missing calls, which is why you got call waiting in the first place. Fortunately, better options are at hand.

Hardware helpers

On the hardware front, the newest arrival is Actiontec Electronics' 56K Call Waiting Modem. This V.90 unit rings when a call comes in and lets the user chat with the caller for several seconds before deciding whether to end the Internet session. (An internal PCI unit costs $100; the external serial model sells for $120.) In my tests, a preproduction internal model proved tricky to install but worked as advertised. Another new product, Computer Peripherals Systems' $189 Internet Caller ID/Call Waiting Manager, attaches to your computer and to your telephone line. It works much like Actiontec's modem, but if you have Caller ID service, it will also store the phone numbers of incoming calls.

MORE COMPUTING INTELLIGENCE
IDG.net   IDG.net home page
  PC World home page
  FileWorld find free software fast
  Make your PC work harder with these tips
 Reviews & in-depth info at IDG.net
 *   IDG.net's desktop PC page
  IDG.net's portable PC page
  IDG.net's Windows software page
  IDG.net's personal news page
  Year 2000 World
  Questions about computers? Let IDG.net's editors help you
  Subscribe to IDG.net's free daily newsletter for computer geniuses (& newbies)
  Search IDG.net in 12 languages
 News Radio
 * Fusion audio primers
 * Computerworld Minute
   

Even better than these hardware devices are the new Internet call-waiting services, which let users screen calls and which cost about a third as much as a second phone line. (Customers must subscribe to call forwarding for busy signals.) The first of these services, Internet Call Manager, was developed by InfoInteractive of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and is the only service available throughout the United States and Canada. InfoInteractive sells its product directly to all consumers except those living in areas where it's offered by InfoInteractive licensees, which at press time included GTE.net, Prodigy, and Cincinnati Bell.

When bought directly from InfoInteractive, Internet Call Manager costs $5 a month (plus call-forwarding charges) and requires downloading a 900KB app that runs in the background. If someone calls you while you're on the Net, a pop-up window displays the caller's name and phone number. By clicking on a button in the window, you can choose either to play a recorded message or to ignore the call, in which case the ring that the caller heard initially will turn into a busy signal.

Telephone companies and ISPs can further customize the service. For example, Cincinnati Bell's version lets a customer forward the call to another number. GTE's InfoInteractive-based service will soon be available to GTE.net and Prodigy subscribers in most major cities; and Bell Atlantic is conducting trials of a similar service.

Newer services use voice-over Internet Protocol -- the technology that enables Internet phone calls -- to let customers stay online and accept incoming calls. The first of these services, US West's Online Call Alert, is available now in limited areas; the company plans to expand the service to all areas where it also offers customers USWest.net Internet access. Online Call Alert forwards incoming voice calls to a special gateway where they're turned into Internet phone calls. Voice quality is not as good as it would be on a regular line, but the service (including call forwarding) costs just $10 per month.

Similar voice-over IP features are included in Lucent's Online Communications Center, which ISPs and telephone companies should begin offering by the end of the year. For anyone who wants a phone line to do double duty, these services may finally provide a no-fuss, affordable solution.


RELATED STORIES:
Voice over DSL sounds promising
August 5, 1999
Quick tips: How to stifle modem noise
July 21, 1998
Opinion: Dispelling those bandwidth myths
February 8, 1999
Web sites cater to connections in 1999
December 24, 1998
Making modem decisions
July 21, 1998

RELATED IDG.net STORIES:
You've got VoizMail!
(PC World Online)
Top 10 modems
(PC World Online)
Put the Internet on hold
(PC World Online)
Internet call-waiting service ramps up
(PC World Online)
Smart phones, smart business
(PC World Online)
Call waiting alerts busy modem users
(PC World Online)
Year 2000 World
(IDG.net)
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

RELATED SITES:
ActionTec 56K Call Waiting Modem
Computer Peripherals Systems Internet Caller ID/Call Waiting Manager
InfoInteractive Internet Call Manager
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.
 LATEST HEADLINES:
SEARCH CNN.com
Enter keyword(s)   go    help

Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.