Net2Phone Inc. has announced the release of a Wi-Fi handset for its VoiceLine IP telephony service. Mum on its OEM origins, the service provider will sell the XJ100 handset for $160, chiefly through its reseller channel of cable operators, ISPs, interconnects and telcos.
The SIP phone complies with both the 802.11b and 802.11g standards for Wi-Fi LANs, and advances the growing trend in VOIP (voice over IP) mobility. A Wi-Fi phone, connecting to the Internet through wireless LANs and public hot spots, frees users from the VOIP leash to adapter-router-modem.
At 5.5 inches long and 111 grams, the handset resembles a cell phone. Like a cell phone, it has controls that simplify voice mail, call forwarding, call blocking and call return. The XJ100 will be loaded (and, automatically, periodically updated) with Net2Phones own software, enabling it with Net2Phones service features. While this limits the phone to Net2Phones VoiceLine service, it simplifies access to features that are typically activated only with a Web GUI or hard-to-remember dialed codes.
VoiceLine service offers unlimited calling to the United States and Canada for $29.99 a month; it also offers country-specific calling plans to Israel or India, and plans of 350 or 500 minutes to Europe and/or Asia in addition to North America. It includes the by-now-familiar package of voice mail, call waiting, caller ID, three-way calling and call forwarding, as well as Web access to controls and call logs. Like many others, VoiceLine assigns the user a U.S. or Canadian phone number with a choice of area codes.
Veering a bit from the beaten path, Net2Phone offers toll-free plans in the United States (with an 866 area code) or U.K. (0800). This is a draw for small businesses in the United States who want to suggest a presence (and lure local callers) in Great Britain, or vice versa. If youre on a calling plan, these are billed at 4.9 cents per minute; on a pay-as-you-go plan, at 7 cents per minute.
Dawn Orlinsky, spokesperson for Newark, N.J.-based Net2Phone, says the VOIP providers road map also includes upcoming soft phones for PDAs and laptops, and that several vendors of such endpoints are under consideration.
Although VoiceLine is offered directly to consumers on Net2Phones Web site, David Span Sr., vice president of product management and marketing, noted that VoiceLine is chiefly sold as a rebranded service through third-party providers. A Nov. 11 announcement made with the National Cable Television Cooperative named Net2Phone its first "Platinum Provider" of white-label IP telephony services. A purchasing cooperative, NCTC represents more than 1,000 U.S. cable system operators serving more than 14 million subscribers.
Pulver.com came out with a WiSIP phone for use with its Free World Dialup VOIP service earlier this year; BroadVoice, a more typical VOIP-with-PSTN gateway service, also offers the WiSIP phone to its own subscribers.