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AIM Phoneline Has A Busy Signal

David A. Utter
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-05-17

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AOL's offering of a new VoIP option that provides a free phone number and incoming calls may have been just a little too good to be true.

On the tenth anniversary of AOL's Buddy List feature, the company introduced its AIM Phoneline service. The new offering gives AIM users a free, local phone number to receive unlimited incoming calls online through the AIM service as well as free online voicemail.

The signup process didn't go well with our test. A request for a local phone number from AIM Phoneline hit a brick wall:

Due to popular demand, it appears an AIM® Phoneline phone number in your local area is currently unavailable. Please provide us with your email address in the field below, and click the "Notify Me" button, so we can let you know when one becomes available.

Not good. AOL knows it has some 22 million AIM users. They should have anticipated demand better and made a greater pool of numbers available.

We're on the waiting list now, because AIM Phoneline does interest us. A free number with voicemail would be of use in a few scenarios as the Phoneline websites illustrated. Phonline also offers an unlimited plan for $9.95 per month of VoIP calling.

That service comes with additional features beyond making calls from the computer. Caller ID, call screening, and click-to-call from the Buddy List come with the service, and users can make Phoneline calls from wherever they can connect the PC. The Unlimited option is also e911 compliant.

The Buddy List seems like it has been around a lot longer than ten years. AOL launched instant messaging within its walled garden of content back in 1989. But 1996 was the year the Buddy List first arrived.

It has been copied a lot (just look at your Yahoo Messenger or MSN Messenger lists) and functions today as it did ten years ago. A number of features have been added to the Buddy List, yet it still serves its purpose, as a handy directory of people one wants to have on hand for easy contact.

We plan to blow out some candles and wish for a Phoneline number invitation to arrive in our inbox.

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About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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