America Online (AOL) is becoming a telephone provider—or at least an Internet phone provider. The company recently announced ambitious plans to offer telephone services via Voice over IP (VoIP) technology to its millions of subscribers. The service will be offered in more than 40 cities. Subscribers will be able to pick a local calling plan at an introductory rate of $13.99 per month or an unlimited North American calling plan for $29.99 per month. The plans will increase by $5 after 3 months. Non-AOL subscribers will be able to subscribe to the AOL phone service for an introductory rate of $29.99 per month for the first 6 months and $39.99 thereafter. With these offerings, AOL joins the rapidly expanding craze of using inexpensive Internet-based technology to increase subscription revenue. AOL joins an increasingly crowded field, populated by such notable vendors as market leader Vonage (which has more than half a million customers), Lingo, Verizon (with its VoiceWing), and AT&T (with its CallVantage)

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