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Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Two Newcomers on The U.S. VoIP Market

Internet search portal Lycos and Jajah, a start-up company, launched on Monday their VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) service in the U.S.

Both companies are declaring war to heavyweight competitors such as America Online, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and EarthLink that are all fighting for a piece of this popular market.

Internet search portal Lycos, owned by Korean company Daum Communications, says its new service called Lycos phone differentiates itself from other VoIP services with its multimedia offering. it offers free PC-to-PC calling, instant-message chatting and video chatting, but additionally features video on demand and an MP3 player.

Its partner, Globe7 provides access to video content from Reuters and Bloomberg, as well as movie trailers and sports highlights.

Lycos is also cutting down prices. As a promotion, it's offering 100 free minutes of PC-to-landline or PC-to-mobile phone calls which are always charged. It is charging less than 1 cent for PC to phone calls made within the continental U.S. The SkypeOut service costs about 2 cents per minute, and Yahoo Messenger with Voice charges between 1 cent and 2 cents per minute.

Lycos phone is also noteworthy for its several other free features, for which Skype and Yahoo charge a fee, including U.S. phone numbers, fax service, and transmission of voice mail messages to e-mail. Lycos also allows users to receive calls from traditional landline phones and mobile phones for free, while Yahoo, for example, charges $2.99 a month, or $29.90 a year, for that service.

Jajah, a start-up with backing from Sequoia Capital, a major Silicon Valley venture capital firm distinguishes itself from its competitors with its simplicity. Jajah's service doesn't require a software download or additional equipment, such as headphones, for their PCs Unlike all the other companies. Instead subscribers use their existing phones.

Users enter their own phone number and the one they're calling on the Jajah web site. The Jajah server then calls both numbers and once they have both answered the phone, the Internet connection is established between the two callers and the conversation is converted into IP packets, over the Internet.

Using Javah, U.S. domestic calls cost approximately 2.2 cents a minute and international calls vary.

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