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January 20, 1997
Internet phone: More than conversation piece

By Jeff Frentzen

Of the various "Net devices" available, the Internet telephone may be the most widely underutilized.

Two-way audio conversation on the public Internet is still a bit of a fad, treated by its users as an extension of text-based discussion forum systems such as Internet Relay Chat. On public telephony servers, though, a majority of the conversation topics are "in the gutter"--that is, sex-related and taboo subjects dominate.

On a corporate intranet, however, there are opportunities for more legitimate applications of Internet telephony. An entire genre of hardware and software vendors has sprung up around the concept of videoconferencing over internetworks. Most of their solutions are very expensive.

With the corporate acceptance of intranet solutions, the idea of adding inexpensive online telephony functions may not be as daunting to IT managers. This is especially relevant at a time when we know that videoconferencing functions will soon be widely available in popular World Wide Web browsers.

It is still, however, an idea that requires careful consideration. For example, adding telephony to your company's intranet involves buying and installing sound cards and decent desktop speakers for users. In addition, training and privacy issues abound.

Though Internet- or intranet-based telephony is getting cheaper, it is no less complicated.

An informed IT manager is a happy one, however. There are some excellent Web sites that cover all aspects of telephony over the Internet.

My first stop is usually the Internet Telephony Resource List, a massive set of links that covers a wide range of subject matter, including clients, servers, standards and infrastructure concerns.

Another jam-packed meta-index, the Audio and Video via the Internet site, focuses on the use of Internet telephony on the public net. Many of the same issues, however, apply to private networks, and the site is intelligently organized to boot.

On a purely technical front, the Internet Telephony Interoperability Consortium offers white papers, software and links for further reading. Hertz Technologies' site is a guide to Internet client and server applications, with an emphasis on Internet telephony. Another source for product information, the Virtual Voice, provides news, events and FAQs.

The Phone Zone Reseller site contains telephony troubleshooting information, as well as implementation tips and tricks.

Last but not least, the VON Coalition Central site is a useful repository for news and information regarding Internet communications technologies.

Write to Jeff via the Internet at jeff_frentzen@zd.com.

Internet Telephony

Name/Address

What to Expect

Audio and Video via the Internet
www.novagate.com/~jack/audiovid.html

Impressive meta-index of Internet telephony, organized intelligently

Hertz Technologies
www.hertz1.com

One-stop shop for numerous Internet client and server applications, with an emphasis on Internet telephony

Internet Telephony Interoperability Consortium
itel.mit.edu

Excellent resource for white papers, software and links for further reading

Internet Telephony Resource List
rpcp.mit.edu/~itel/resource.html

Massive set of links that cover nearly all aspects of Internet telephony

Phone Zone
www.phonezone.com

Reseller and service provider with troubleshooting information, tips and tricks and an Internet telephony section

Virtual Voice
www.virtual-voice.com

Guide to products, services, news, events, and FAQs; good starting point for further investigation

VON Coalition
www.von.org

Central repository for news and information regarding Internet communications technologies

   
Previous Safaris An index of previous safaris

January 13, 1997
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January 6, 1997
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December 23, 1996
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December 16, 1996
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December 9, 1996
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December 2, 1996
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November 25, 1996
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November 18, 1996
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November 11, 1996
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November 4, 1996
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October 28, 1996
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October 21, 1996
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October 14, 1996
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October 7, 1996
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September 30, 1996
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September 23, 1996
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September 16, 1996
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September 9, 1996
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September 3, 1996
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August 26, 1996
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August 19, 1996
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August 12, 1996
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August 5, 1996
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July 29, 1996
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July 22, 1996
Quality intranet resources abound on the Web -- High-quality sites offering information about how to create and implement an intranet.

July 15, 1996
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July 8, 1996
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June 17, 1996
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April 8, 1996
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April 1, 1996
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March 18, 1996
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March 11, 1996
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March 4, 1996
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February 26, 1996
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