Vonage Gives Wi-Fi a Voice

VoIP upstart Vonage and networking specialist UTStarcom have
partnered to bring a portable Wi-Fi handset to market by
summer.

The phones are aimed at giving Vonage an edge over AT&T ,
Verizon and others by offering callers the convenience of a
cell phone without the costs of traditional carriers.

The F-1000, which offers mobility across 802.11b networks, should be
available to subscribers of Vonage during the second quarter.
It will be sold through Vonage’s Web site and retail partners, including
Amazon, Best Buy and Circuit City. Pricing hasn’t been set, but the
companies said the F-1000 will be “affordable.”

The phone is suited for use in homes and small businesses, or across
corporate and university campuses that have dozens of hotspots
, Vonage CEO Jeffrey Citron told internetnews.com. It is designed to also appeal to business travelers who could connect via hotel access spots.

WiFiPhone

Vonage’s Wi-Fi Phone
Source: Vonage

It’s based on Session Initiation Protocol , a signaling protocol for Internet conferencing, telephony, presence, events notification and
instant messaging. SIP initiates call setup, routing, authentication and
other feature messages to endpoints within an IP domain and is used by many
VoIP equipment makers.

Some VoIP companies are selling Wi-Fi phones, including BroadVoice, which
sells Pulver Innovations’ Wi-Fi phone for $149.95. But Vonage has deeper
pockets than most and and a retail partner network with 8,000 total stores.

In addition to the UTStarcom agreement, Vonage and chipmaking giant Texas
Instruments will showcase the results of a partner pact inked at last year’s CES.

The companies will debut a Vonage-compatible, TI-powered IP videophone and a
cordless broadband phone systems, from Viseon and VTech Communications,
respectively. “TI has been a phenomenal partner,” Citron said. “We have been
able to take our initial relationship and make workable products.”

Viseon’s Visifone II broadband videophone uses technology from TI’s VoIP and
digital media groups. Videophones have been hyped for decades, but
technical limitations and high costs have bedeviled vendors and carriers.

Citron said widespread broadband and TI technology have solved quality
issues, and while pricing hasn’t been set, he expects it to be far less
expensive than earlier products. Still, he concedes that consumer demand is
untested.

VTech’s ip8100-2 broadband telephone incorporates TI’s VoIP gateway chipset.
The phone plugs directly into a customer’s broadband connection or router,
eliminating the need for a standalone adapter and telephone. Both products
are expected to hit retailers by spring or summer, the companies said.

Terms of the Voice over WLAN deal, announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES)
in Las Vegas, weren’t disclosed.

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