Open wireless Internet hot spots will soon serve as virtual phone booths, as four manufacturers plan to introduce Wi-Fi handsets for Skype’s popular voice-over-IP (VoIP) telephony service this quarter.
The phones can be used at open Wi-Fi access points that do not require browser authentication, and come preloaded with Skype software, Skype said Thursday. The move is designed to give Skype users the mobility of a cell phone, but retain the ability to use the eBay-owned telephony company’s free or inexpensive calling rates, Skype said. There is no difference in fees for calls made from Wi-Fi phones than for those made from PCs.
Belkin, Accton Technology’s Edge-Core, Netgear and Standard Microsystems are all introducing the handsets to support the new service. The phones will hit the market in the third quarter, Skype said, and will be sold directly from the Skype online store. Edge-Core’s phone, which features a color liquid crystal display screen, carries a suggested retail price of 199 euros (US$251), excluding value-added tax (VAT). Netgear’s phone is displayed on the Skype store, listed as “coming soon” and priced at 140 pounds (US$258), inclusive of VAT.
-Steven Schwankert, IDG News Service (Beijing Bureau)
Check out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.