Steve Roberts, marketing manager of Intel's Internet and communications group said that the UK would be a key market. "The UK and Germany are the largest users of the Internet after the US," he said. "We think there's a lot of demand for communications-type tasks with data showing that 40-60 per cent of Internet time is spent on discussion and several million downloads of current Internet phone applications."
Despite clear potential for cost savings, Internet telephony has been held back by a lack of standards. However, recent agreements between Microsoft, Intel and other key vendors promise the ability to make Internet calls reliably and with good transmission quality, regardless of platform and software. Intel says it Internet Phone app-let is the first product to support the open standard H.323-based communications software.
The beta software will be available for download on http://www.intel.com/iaweb/cpc from Wednesday when the product will formally announced at Intel's Internet Media Symposium in the US. The meeting will also include a keynote speech by Intel CEO Andrew Grove and other product announcements. Microsoft has already said it will distribute its NetMeeting conferencing application from its Web site in September.