New York — Linksys announced today that it will manufacture a cordless phone for a free peer-to-peer VoIP service called Skype.
Linksys will ship the Internet Telephony Kit (CIT200) this month for a suggested $129.99. The kit contains a handset, charger and a USB base station that plugs into a computer to let Skype users make calls without having to be at a PC. The computer must be on for calls to go through.
The base station can support up to four handsets.
The DECT-based handset can read and display callers’ Skype contact list on a built-in illuminated display, letting callers know which of their Skype contacts are online and ready to be called. The handset also supports SkypeOut, SkypeIn and Skype Voicemail services that allow users to send and receive calls to landline and cellphone users and record voice messages.
The handset also supports call waiting and features three ringtones, built-in speakerphone, up to 120 hours of standby time and caller ID,
Skype is a free peer-to-peer Internet telephony service founded by the inventors of the file-sharing service Kazaa. It was recently purchased by online auctioneer eBay. Unlike residential VoIP services, Skype users can only call other Skype users and the calls must go through a computer.
The company is expanding into retail with several hardware partnerships, including one with phone-maker VTech, as it services grows. According to Skype, the company has 58 million registered users worldwide since its debut in August 200, with 3 million people using the service at any given time.
By contrast, Vonage, the largest residential subscriber-based VoIP service, announced it reached the 1 million subscriber mark in September.