Vonage to offer wireless phones

Vonage Holdings Corp. on Tuesday announced it has partnered with two companies to offer wireless telephone handsets for its VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol) service.

Both phones will eliminate the need for Vonage customers to buy VOIP adapters to connect with traditional, non-VOIP phones. Vonage in the past has marketed the adapters, but not VOIP phones, said Louis Mamakos, Vonage's chief technology officer.

Vonage, which provides VOIP service to residential and small business customers, announced it will begin offering a VTech Holdings Ltd. cordless VOIP telephone through retail outlets by mid-2005.

A second new phone, offered through a partnership with UTStarcom Inc., will be a Wi-Fi phone that customers can use to connect to the Vonage service wherever they have a Wi-Fi connection. Customers with Wi-Fi networks at home can use the phone there and take the phone with them to work to connect to their employers' Wi-Fi network, Mamakos said. The same phone number will follow the phone, much like cellular phone service.

The Wi-Fi phone will be available through retailers by the middle of this year. Vonage has not yet determined a price for either of the phones.

Both phones will allow customers to avoid buying VOIP adapters, and customers are looking for more types of phones to use with the Vonage service, Mamakos said. Customers could save money if they buy a VOIP-enabled phone, instead of buying an adapter and a traditional phone, he added.

"We see a lot of diversity in the products we're able to provide," he said. "We're trying to offer different products for different users."

Vonage, in conjunction with the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, also announced Tuesday that it is extending its current relationship with Texas Instruments Inc. It will include Texas Instruments' VOIP software and semiconductors in the VTech product as well as a in Viseon Inc. fixed-line home video phone, also available some time this year.

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