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VoIP Equipment Is Becoming More Diverse

1/06/2005 02:00:00 AM Eastern

As VoIP technology blurs the line between data and voice, a similar eliding of distinctions is occurring in the equipment market as traditional voice vendors are integrating data technologies into their products, and data suppliers pour voice technologies in their own lines.

During International CES suppliers will introduce products for consumers and small-office users, who will be confronted with a host of new VoIP-enabled equipment, from simple telephone adapters to multi-handset cordless phones and IP-based videophones.

Giant International, under its new Tao brand, will introduce the multi-handset Cordless Dualphone, a combination VoIP/PSTN cordless using 2.4GHz digital frequency hopping spread spectrum technology. The unit, for a suggested $129, ships in the first quarter and is expandable up to four handsets.

The phone's base station connects to a PC via USB for placing VoIP calls and plugs into a RJ11 jack for landline calling. The computer must be on for VoIP calls but does not have to be on for PSTN calls. The phone is targeted to PC owners running a soft phone VoIP client software — it is not shipping with a VoIP service provider.

Two separate keys on the handset enable the user to choose between placing a landline or VoIP call and distinct ringtones differentiate between incoming landline or VoIP calls. When using a VoIP soft phone, the handsets can display a user's buddy list on its LCD. Other features include caller ID/call waiting, three click-on color handset face panels and five ringtones. Pricing and ship date were not available at press time.

Leadtek is introducing its BVP8882 stand-alone broadband videophone featuring a 5-inch LCD screen and CCD camera. It works on either the H.323 or SIP protocols for placing IP video calls. The unit features a built-in USB port to support Wi-Fi dongles or USB drives for saving or retrieving audio and video. A keyboard can plug into the USB port for typing text messages. It will have a $599 suggested retail price.

Motorola is updating its VT1000 terminal adapter (TA), which originally shipped with Vonage's service, with a new VT2000 series of adapter products. The new line will include a VT2000 terminal adapter that supports virtual private networks, a CT2400 with four LAN ports, and the VT2500, which adds 802.11G wireless functionality.

The company is gearing the products toward retail distribution and is currently negotiating with VoIP service providers including Vonage, said Jeff Walker, marketing senior director, Motorola. Pricing was not set.

Panasonic will ship a multi-handset cordless VoIP phone system in the early summer, according to Wayne Borg, national marketing manager. The 5.8GHz digital FSS phone will feature both PSTN and VoIP calling with an as yet to be named service provider. It will be expandable to four handsets, with ITAD for landline calls. Pricing had yet to be determined.

SOYOis unveiling its Z-Connect family of VoIP products for use with the company's VoIP service. A Z-Connect router, for a suggested $139.99, features both a voice gateway and broadband Internet router, supporting up to four computers. The Z-Connect router is equipped with one standard analog telephone port, one WAN Ethernet 10/100 Base TX port, four LAN Ethernet 10/100Base TX ports and a firewall.

The router will ship pre-loaded with 150 minutes of free call time, letting users place calls out of the box. Additional call time is purchased using the company's pay-as-you-go plan online. Owners of Z-Connect product can call each other for free.

The company is also announcing a price reduction and rebranding on its corded IP phone. Now called the Z-Connect phone, the corded model will feature a new suggested retail of $99.99 (from $139.99) and be bundled with 150 free minutes and $50 worth of additional calling time.

Thomson is planning to introduce a multi-handset cordless phone with a built-in terminal adapter under its RCA brand in April. According to Lisa Castor, VP, Atlinks/Thomson, the company is still evaluating how to launch the product — in conjunction with a service provider or standalone. Pricing has not been set.

8x8will introduce the Packet8 Virtual Office retail kit, a self-installing VoIP solution for small businesses to enable PBX-type features without the cost of a full-blow office phone system. Virtual Office, for a suggested $99.95 per extension, allows users anywhere in the world to group multiple Packet8 VoIP lines into a virtual business telephone system.

Aside from access to 8x8's VoIP calling plan, Virtual Office features customizable auto-attendant providing dial by extension, name or by group; direct inward dial; conference bridge; music on hold; voicemail to email alerts; global extension-to-extension dialing and one-touch controls for regularly used features such as three-way calling, forwarding, do not disturb, voicemail and call transfers.

The retail packages contains a broadband phone adapter and hands-free business class telephone. The Virtual Office service is $39.95 per month per extension plus a $39 activation fee.

Uniden will demonstrate its VoIP solution at the show using its two-line TRU5885 5.8GHz digital system connected to a cable modem and delivering VoIP calling to its accessory handsets. According to Uniden's CEO Al Silverberg, the company is currently evaluating potential VoIP service provider partners.

VTech will offer three VoIP products under its own brand and one system under the AT&T brand, all shipping in May. The VTech products will be pre-programmed to work with Vonage's IP telephony service and with the free peer-to-peer Skype service. The AT&T product will be programmed to access AT&T's CallVantage service.

The VTech-branded Vonage products will include the 4106 terminal adapter (TA) with 2 FXS ports for a suggested $79.95. The company will also offer the ip8100, a 5.8GHz digital multi-handset system with a terminal adapter integrated into the base station. The base plugs into a broadband modem and delivers IP calling to its up-to-four accessory handsets (two included). The phone cannot make landline calls and features caller ID and handset speakerphone for a suggested $149.95.

For Skype users VTech will offer a dual-mode USB/PSTN 2.4GHz digital cordless phone that plugs into both a PC via USB and a wall jack for Internet or landline calling. The phone features caller ID and will sell for a suggested $99.95.

Under its AT&T brand, VTech will offer a CallVantage-enabled 2.4GHz digital phone for a suggested $249.95. The VoIP 6322 works on both the landline and AT&T's IP network. It features caller ID, ITAD, handset speaker phone and is expandable up to eight handsets. The TA is built into the base station.

Wave Industries will announce the Olympia-branded OL1000 DSS VoIP expandable cordless system, expandable up to four handsets. It features a TA built into the base for converting analog calls to digital signals. Pricing was not available.

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