AT&T has launched technical trials of an Internet-based long-distance telephone service. While it acknowledges that quality and reliability will not equal its regular service, it hopes that customers will accept some limitations in order to realize domestic rates of $.075 to $.09 per minute. No PC is required. One simply dials a local access number, punches in an ID code, then dials the long-distance number.
At least four other companies already offer Internet telephone service: IDT Corporation of Hackensack, New Jersey; Qwest of Denver; RSL Communications of New York; and RSL's subsidiary Delta Three of New York.
The use of the Internet for long-distance calling is growing rapidly, but much of it is due to the expectation of much lower costs. That may not be the case as regular long-distance service is often discounted, and the cost of using an ISP to access the Internet has to be figured into the cost of Internet telephoning. Furthermore, not all of the services cover the whole country, and most of them offer only limited international service. Taxation is another matter still to be dealt with.
For now this appears to be a development which warrants tracking, rather than one which warrants a rush to sign up.