AOL enhances premium voice services

America Online has enhanced its Call Alert and Voicemail services to bolster the premium offerings as it prepares to launch the...

America Online has enhanced its Call Alert and Voicemail services to bolster the premium offerings as it prepares to launch the next version of its internet access software, AOL 9.0 Optimized.

A new feature in AOL's Call Alert service will allow subscribers to reduce telemarketing calls. Call Alert, introduced late last year, notifies users when a call comes in while they are online and allows them to send responses asking the caller to ring back later or call a mobile phone,.

The "telemarketing call reducer" feature, which can be selected by hitting the "I don't know you" button when a call comes in from an unrecognised number, sends a special tone to some telemarketers' computers, indicating that the number dialled has been disconnected. If the caller is a person, they receive the "I don't know you" message."

Call Alert users with only one phone line will also be able to answer calls while they are online using the AOL service.

AOL is also extending both its Voicemail and Call Alert services to allow users to screen or stop incoming calls from private or unknown numbers by selecting a preference to block all anonymous callers, or request that anonymous callers identify themselves before completing the call.

These features will be available to members using AOL 7.0 and above, and will be available in AOL 9.0 Optimized when it rolls out later this quarter.

Call Alert costs $3.95, in addition to AOL's normal subscription fees, while AOL Voicemail, which includes Call Alert, is priced at $5.95 a month.

Scarlet Pruitt writes for IDG News Service

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