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LONG DISTANCE VIA THE NET--WITHOUT A PC

NOTHING GIVES LONG-DISTANCE PHONE-SERVICE providers a headache like free Internet phone calls. So, Silicon Valley startup Aplio Inc. is sure to have them reaching for the aspirin. The company's new Aplio Phone lets callers place long-distance calls the conventional way, and then--by pressing a button--drop that connection and reconnect over the Internet. For anyone whose monthly bill exceeds the $20 for an Internet account, this could be a huge savings. And unlike other Net-calling approaches, it does not require a PC--just connect the small device to the phone, the way you would an answering machine.

There are trade-offs. It takes 45 seconds from the time the caller presses the button to the time the phone rings again at the other end. Plus, there's a half-second lag on conversation. However, unlike fuzzy-sounding programs from others, the Aplio phone has a dedicated microprocessor and custom digital-signal processor that improves quality.

Priced at $199 for one or $329 for two, the Aplio could soon pay for itself in long-distance savings. And, with an upgrade planned for this spring, the recipient won't need to have an Aplio device. The company also is talking to phonemakers such as Sony Corp. and Phillips Electronics about integrating the device into their handsets.

EDITED BY AMY CORTESE
Peter Burrows


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Updated Dec. 11, 1997 by bwwebmaster
Copyright 1997, Bloomberg L.P.
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