By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Vonage will sell Wi-Fi Internet access in select markets thanks to a three-year deal with Internet service provider Earthlink.
Under terms of the agreement, Vonage will buy wholesale access from EarthLink in all cities where the ISP will build, own and operate municipal wireless networks and resell it under the Vonage brand in conjunction with its phone service.
EarthLink has Wi-Fi contracts in Philadelphia; Anaheim and Milpitas, California; and New Orleans. Vonage plans to make its Wi-Fi/telephony bundle available by the end of the year on its Web site and through its telephone sales channels, a company spokesperson said.
Vonage plans to complement the offering with a wireless modem and other hardware and software tools for accessing Wi-Fi as an alternative to a DSL or cable broadband connection. Future Vonage Wi-Fi phones will also work over EarthLink's network, the company said. Hardware is expected by the end of the year.
The company is increasingly looking to pair Internet access with its VoIP calling service, the spokesperson said. It is currently partnered with Charter Cable to sell Charter-branded cable Internet access if prospective Vonage customers in Charter markets don't have broadband.
The EarthLink partnership is not exclusive and Vonage will be on the look-out for future ISP partners, the spokesperson added.
Vonage also announced a new calling service that will let consumers dial Vonage numbers from non-Vonage lines for the cost of a local call.
The V-Access service gives users an access number to make calls to any Vonage telephone number or an 800 number without long-distance or international fees. The feature will be available to anyone — subscribers and non-subscribers alike — in the United States, Canada, France, Italy, Mexico, Spain and the United Kingdom.
Consumers can obtain access numbers online.
Finally, the company announced last week that 94 percent of its subscribers were equipped with E911 access.
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