THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - Iobi, the hottest item in wired communications, is bigger and better than ever, bringing point-and-click call-management and messaging features to Verizon customers just about everywhere.
Both the home and small business versions of iobi are available now in California. The unique communications management tool was expanded recently to Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. .
The iobi Home service also now includes additional features for controlling caller access, and it is available in all current markets nationwide at $3 off the monthly price with the purchase of any Verizon Freedom calling plan.
"Iobi is a magic toolbox for managing all communications," said Jerri DeVard, senior vice president of national marketing for Verizon. "We've thrown a few new tools into the box, linked it to our best calling packages, with a discount of nearly 40 percent, and are approaching nationwide availability.
"Iobi makes traditional network-based communication a hot item," she said. "It differentiates our service bundle from everyone else's and with our calling plans, helps provide a great foundation for a triple play of calling and features, Verizon broadband services and DIRECTV all-digital entertainment, all on one bill from Verizon."
With iobi Home or iobi Professional, families and workers can manage all their communications functions on their computers with a click of a mouse. A customer can handle incoming calls in real time; manage call records, voice messages and calendars; synchronize multiple electronic address books; get a text message notice of an incoming call or new voice message; and lots more. In addition, many of the iobi functions, such as retrieving voice messages, accessing address book entries and setting up call forwarding, can be managed through two additional iobi access points - the iobi Web site or the iobi toll-free voice portal.
New iobi Home features available now to all customers include:
Call Block: Prevents calls from selected numbers -- including all "unavailable" and "private" calls -- from reaching the user. Callers hear a pre-selected outgoing message. Adding numbers to an "exception list" lets important calls come through without being blocked.
Do Not Disturb: Automatically sends calls to Verizon's Home Voice Mail, if available, or plays a pre-selected message. Adding numbers to an "allowed callers list" lets those calls through. All calls show up in the call log.
Selective Call Forwarding: Users can decide which callers reach them on their wireless phone or another line. Set up to 20 numbers for selective call forwarding.
Enhanced Message Center: Users can put iobi Home on more than one line and track all inbound calls and messages for all lines from one screen.
Launch Default E-Mail Application: When using a PC, this feature activates the default e-mail program on the user's computer when the user sends an e-mail using iobi.
City Guide: Iobi can get information about movies, restaurants, and local events for the user's hometown or any other city.
Business Search and Driving Directions: iobi links users to Verizon SuperPages which allows them to look up business listings or generate driving directions using a phone number or an address.
Verizon Long Distance, provider of iobi services, is offering a $3 per month discount off the price of iobi Home for customers who also subscribe to Verizon Freedom, Freedom Extra and Freedom Unlimited calling plans. Customers who qualify can buy iobi for just $4.95 per month. Existing customers who have Freedom plans and iobi will automatically receive the discount.
"Creating a Freedom-iobi bundle will have a dramatic effect on the growth of iobi and will further increase the value of our Freedom calling plans," DeVard said.
Iobi is driven by a Verizon-proprietary data platform that integrates the Verizon wireline network with other networks and with the Internet. This enables otherwise separate networks to work with each other. For example, with iobi, a user can view on the computer a list of all incoming calls and voicemail messages. Iobi lets the user play the voice messages left on Verizon's voice messaging services through the PC with a click of a mouse and forward messages in the form of sound files via e-mail. Iobi also lets users automatically send an alert to any wireless phone every time the iobi-enabled phone line rings or a voice message is left.
Because both versions of iobi let customers observe and manage calls to an iobi-enabled number, users can virtually be in two places at once. A working mother, for example, can monitor incoming calls to the home phone and see when her child's school is calling. The parent can then choose to transfer the call to her office phone or to forward it to her wireless handset or to a caregiver's phone, in real time.
For business people, that same feature lets them appear to be in the office even if they are in an airport, hotel, or client's office. They never need to miss an important call.
Another popular iobi feature is the ability to schedule call forwarding by the hour and day of the week, automatically directing calls as they come in.
With iobi Professional, priced at $11.95 per line, small businesses reap the benefits of advanced telecommunications without an investment in new hardware. Managers have the added power of an administrative console to control features assigned to individual office lines. Because there is no hardware, installation is quick and easy.
"Informal feedback from customers tells us iobi Professional is more to small-business owners than just another software tool; it's a whole set of tools for managing connections and time," said Karmalita Contee-Borders, product manager.
"Communications features have long been a godsend to small-business people," she said. "What they want to do is exercise their skills and manage their products and services first and cope with managerial functions second. Good communications tools facilitate that."
Both iobi services can be provisioned on any Verizon landline and require only a small software client, which is downloaded over the Web. No special hardware is necessary. Accounts are ID and password protected. High-speed Internet access is not required. Verizon voice messaging services enhance the value of the iobi products.
With more than $71 billion in annual revenues, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon has a diverse work force of more than 214,000 in four business units: Domestic Telecom provides customers based in 28 states with wireline and other telecommunications services, including broadband. Verizon Wireless owns and operates the nation's most reliable wireless network, serving 47.4 million voice and data customers across the United States. Information Services operates directory publishing businesses and provides electronic commerce services. International includes wireline and wireless operations and investments, primarily in the Americas and Europe. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.