By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Pure-play VoIP providers continued their push into retail, with Earthlink announcing its first retail product and partner, Vonage adding an e-tailer, and 8x8 expanding distribution for its Virtual Office package.
Internet service provider EarthLink announced that it would sell its trueVoice service through retail — initially at Fry's Electronics — via a co-branded starter kit with Linksys equipment. This is Earthlink's first foray into retail with a voice product, a spokesperson said, and the company is looking to expand distribution in the coming months.
The EarthLink kits will include either the Linksys Phone Adapter (SPA2002-ER) or Wireless-G Router with 2 Phone Ports (WRTP54G-ER) programmed to work on EarthLink's trueVoice VoIP service.
Both kits provide for connection of two standard home phones or fax machines.
EarthLink's trueVoice solution works with high-speed Internet connections. The service provider offers unlimited local and long distance calling, E-911, voicemail, caller ID, call forwarding and other features for $24.99 per month.
Vonage added e-commerce site eCost.com to its growing network of VoIP resellers. eCost will stock Vonage-enabled hardware from Linksys in the form of wired and wireless routers and terminal adapters. eCost will also offer Uniden and VTech cordless phones. Vonage offers $30 to $90 mail-in rebates for devices after its service has been used for 60 days.
Finally, 8x8 announced an expansion of its CompUSA partnership. The office superstore will now stock 8x8's Packet8 Virtual Office in each of its 226 nationwide locations.
The Virtual Office starter kit features three business-class telephones and terminal adapters for a suggested $239.97 (after a $150 mail-in rebate).
Packet8 Virtual Office is a VoIP-hosted PBX (private branch exchange) phone service that allows small businesses to avail themselves of corporate calling features such as auto attendants, conference bridge and extension-to-extension dialing.
Virtual Office service plans provide unlimited local and long distance calling in the United States and Canada for a flat rate of $39.99 a month.
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