Companies Offer 'Click-to-Talk' Web Services

FRAMINGHAM (01/28/2000) - If the idea of adding voice capabilities to your e-commerce Web site sounds too complicated, you might want to check out what AudioTalk Networks Inc. and eFusion Inc. have to offer.

The companies are application service providers (ASP) offering business users an easy way to let consumers talk to customer service agents over the Internet.

"There are plenty of companies out there offering users Web-enabled tools that support voice or chat applications," says Brian Strachman, an industry analyst at Cahners In-Stat Group in Newton, Mass. "But the competitive advantage the ASP model offers is that users can simply buy this capability as a service, which is much cheaper than going out and buying the equipment themselves."

AudioTalk last week launched its Internet Voice Services, which let business users offer click-to-talk voice services on e-commerce Web sites. AudioTalk is offering its voice applications on a rental basis. Business users simply need to add a small amount of HTML code to their Web sites and an icon.

AboveNet is hosting AudioTalk's application, which runs on Linux servers and voice-over-IP gateways from Cisco Systems Inc.

This week, eFusion is launching its Push-to-Talk service, which is a significant change for the company. EFusion is transitioning into an ASP from its previous position as a voice-over-IP manufacturer that sold gateways to service providers such as US West.

While eFusion has been offering voice-over-IP gateways for a couple of years, US West is the largest domestic customer eFusion has announced. The company believes that by eliminating deployment and network integration concerns, more business users will be willing to add voice capabilities directly to their Web sites.

EFusion has deployed its servers, which have an integrated voice-over-IP gateway, at Frontier Global Center's Web hosting facilities.

AudioTalk's services are available now and start at $200 per month. EFusion's services are also available starting at $100 per month.

AudioTalk: www.audiotalk.com; EFusion: www.efusion.com.

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