3Com releases enterprise VOIP phone

3Com introduced an office phone that supports voice over IP over Wi-Fi.

3Com has released a new cordless VOIP (voice over IP) phone, targeted at business customers who tend to move around the office a lot in their jobs.

The phone uses SIP (Session Initiation Protocol), which means it's compatible with standard networking equipment that a business might already have. It is also compatible with standards-based wireless LAN infrastructure.

3Com expects that such phones will appeal to workers in education, government, healthcare and retail who spend much of their time away from a desk. Users can transfer calls to other employees, reach a receptionist, listen to voicemail and read email on the phone. They can also customize personal settings such as ring tones and speed dials.

The clamshell phone used Wireless Protected Access 2 and encryption for security. It is called the 3Com 3108 and is available now for US$415.

Such standalone Wi-Fi phones may compete with converged cellular and Wi-Fi phones that operators are just starting to introduce. The Wi-Fi-only phones could have advantages over some of the combined offerings because they don't incur any per minute usage fees and may work better indoors, although users who leave the corporate campus often might have to carry a separate cell phone and number.

3Com is competing with other Wi-Fi phone makers, including networking giant Cisco Systems, SpectraLink and Siemens.

Earlier this year, Nokia began selling its Eseries of phones, many of which come with both cellular and Wi-Fi and support SIP for wireless VOIP calls.

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