An Internet phone operators latest financial filing has set off speculation that Google has begun selling a commercial version of its Internet phone service.
Given Googles rock star status in the technology world, the potential move is sure to enliven the market for VOIP (voice over IP), which is freely available software to make calls using an Internet connection.
Present day VOIP calls using Google Talk, Googles instant messaging feature, are free, and largely confined to Internet-connected devices that download Google Talk.
On Jan. 30, word came from Google partner, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based VOIP Inc., that Google plans to debut a VOIP feature sometime this year.
This could lead to a version that, presumably, allows its VOIP users to call traditional home or cell phones.
From Googles perspective, this connection achieves two important goals. Chiefly, it allows Google to offer the same premium, low-cost phone plans and features that VOIP has become so famous for.
By filling out that missing piece of its phone portfolio, Google catches up to competitive VOIP features from Vonage Holdings, Skype, Microsofts MSN, America Online and others that already offer PC-to-phone dialing.
Google would only confirm that it is testing a "click-to-call" feature, which initiates phones calls much like a Web hyperlink sends someone to a new Web page.
The hubbub is based on a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing Jan. 30 by VOIP Inc., whose subsidiary was hired by Google last September to supply it with VOIP services.
VOIP Inc. now expects Google to begin reselling its services this year.