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8x8 Updates VoIP Videophone Calling Features

8/02/2004 02:29:00 PM Eastern

Santa Clara, Calif. — VoIP provider 8x8 announced additional calling features for its Packet8 broadband VoIP videophone, the DV326.

The new features include call return (*69), call waiting disable, do not disturb and anonymous call blocking. The services will be provided at no additional cost to all Packet8 subscribers and work on both the standard residential VoIP service and its videophone service calling plans.

The Packet8 videophone works on any broadband connection, cable or DSL, and connects to a modem via an Ethernet cable. It features a corded phone and built-in video screen. It employs a CCD camera for streaming 352-pixel by 288-pixel video at speeds up to 256Kbps.

At present, the unit is not compatible with existing videophones on the market, according to 8x8.

The DV326 can also be used as a regular voice VoIP phone, placing calls to landline and cellphone numbers. The unit features 5-inch TFT LCD screen with 23 degree to 90 degree tilt, 100 number phonebook, 10 number speed dial, a privacy mode and Audio/Video In/Out ports for connecting the phone to a TV.

The A/V port can also be used to connect the phone to a digital camera or camcorder, allowing users to feed still images or video from other devices through the videophone.

The Packet8 videophone will retail for a suggested $499 with a $200 rebate. A two-phone pack will come with a $500 rebate, letting consumers buy two phones for the price of one in an effort to kick-start adoption, said Regina Wiedemann, retail sales VP, 8x8.

The video/voice calling plan, available on 8x8’s Web-site, costs $29.95 per month with a one-year commitment and offers unlimited voice and video calls to anyone in the U.S. and Canada and unlimited voice/video calls internationally between Packet8 users.

The company offers a voice-only VoIP plan for $19.95.

In addition 8x8 is courting retail “in a big way,” hoping to build a subscriber base to compete with other off the shelf VoIP competitors, Wiedemann said. 8x8 is offering a hardware margin, activation bounty and a residual on subscriber revenue, Wiedemann said.

Current retail partners include Buy.com, TigerDirect.com and J&R Music.

The principle customers for the videophone to date have been small business users, telecommuters and individuals with family overseas, Wiedemann said. International users, especially, benefit from VoIP’s inexpensive calling.

According to Wiedemann, a U.S. consumer can buy a Packet8 videophone or the telephone adapter, assign it a U.S. number, and ship it to relatives overseas who can then make international calls back to the U.S. on the company’s domestic calling plan.

“It’s a huge cost savings for consumers,” Wiedemann said.