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Study: Vonage, AT&T are tops for Internet calls

Mon., July 25, 2005

Internet-based telephone services are still very inferior to traditional phone connections in reliability and sound quality, according to an extensive study that judged Vonage and AT&T CallVantage best among the top providers.

Keynote Systems Inc., known for measuring the performance of popular Web sites, also found that the reliability of Voice-over-Internet phone service is significantly affected by the provider of the high-speed Internet line used to dial a call.

Time Warner Cable and MCI Inc.’s UUNET business service scored highest on reliability. Keynote found little variance in audio clarity among the broadband providers,

The study was based on 154,000 calls placed in May and June using six leading Internet phone services, or 22,000 each, and seven providers of high-speed Internet connections.

Keynote declined to disclose the full rankings from the study, which it is selling to clients but said the scores varied widely from top to bottom and that even the leaders had substantial room to improve.

Powell enlists with venture capital firm

Colin Powell’s next tour of duty will be in venture capital. The old soldier, formerly Secretary of State and chairman of the Joint Chiefs, has enlisted with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, one of Silicon Valley’s best-known venture capital firms.

As a strategic limited partner, Powell will have an undisclosed stake in some of the investments made by a Menlo Park-based Kleiner Perkins, which has previously struck it rich with a list of renowned startups that include online search engine leader Google Inc. and Web browser pioneer Netscape Communications Inc.

Powell, 68, won’t simply be a passive investor, according to John Doerr, a Kleiner Perkins partner. The firm plans to deploy Powell in meetings with entrepreneurs, helping to educate them about management and the opportunities in the rapidly expanding economies outside the United States.

Powell has some previous experience with startups, having once served on the board of AOL.

Bank requires more than passwords

Bank of America Corp. is rolling out a new security system aimed at thwarting efforts by online crooks to access its customers’ accounts.

Passwords will no longer be enough.

With SiteKey, bank customers pick three challenge questions — things only the customer would know, such as the year and model of the customer’s first car — and provide them with the password to log on.

Customers can also verify they are indeed at Bank of America’s Web site by clicking on a SiteKey button. If they fail to see a secret image and phrase they had chosen earlier, they could be at a fake Web site and the target of a “phishing” scam.

Bank of America is rolling out SiteKey this week in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., following a launch in Tennessee last month. It should be available nationwide by the fall. The service will be free.


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