LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Vonage, the U.S. pioneer of low-cost phone
service over Internet broadband connections, on Tuesday said it was
working with a phone maker to offer a "Wi-Fi" handset for subscribers
to use at home or around town.
The Edison, New Jersey-based company said it had partnered with
UTStarcom, a diversified maker of telecommunications equipment based
in Alameda, California, to introduce a portable Wi-Fi handset in the
spring or summer.
In a series of announcements timed ahead of the Consumer Electronics
Show conference here this week, Vonage unveiled plans for the wireless
phone, a separate cordless model, and to make these phones available
broadly through retailers.
The new Wi-Fi handset, to be known as the F-1000, would be designed to
work with Vonage phone service out of the box for U.S. subscribers.
The phones would take advantage of local radio airwaves on the most
mainstream of Wi-Fi standards -- the so-called "B" standard.
The Wi-Fi handset can act as a replacement to traditional fixed-line
phones that a subscriber might have around the house. It can also work
when it is within range of any nearby Wi-Fi hotspot out of the house,
according to UTStarcom.
Separately, Vonage said it had agreed to a partnership with phone
maker VTech (0303.HK), one of North America's largest suppliers of
conventional phones, to create a cordless phone system that runs on
Vonage's broadband service.
The product is based on Texas Instruments Inc.'s VoIP chipset, and
will be available at more than 8,000 U.S. retail locations during the
spring/summer of 2005. The phone plugs directly into a customer's
broadband Internet connection.
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