Vonage Marketing Inc. has partnered with telecommunications equipment designer UTStarcom Inc. to produce Vonages first portable Wi-Fi handset, the companies announced Tuesday.
UTStarcom designed and manufactured Vonages latest device, dubbed the F1000.
It looks similar to a traditional cell phone and offers consumers easy access to Vonages voice over IP phone service from any open-access Wi-Fi hotspot in coffee shops, airport lounges or hotels, according to company officials.
"Weve been talking to UTStarcom about many different products—lately weve been brainstorming about mobile phones," said Louis Holder, executive vice president of product development at Vonage.
About a year ago, "we asked [UTStarcom] if they could build us a Wi-Fi phone with cell form factor and we have since been working together to build and test the product, which we can now release to consumers."
The device, which operates via 802.11b wireless networks, allows users to make relatively inexpensive local and long-distance calls to anywhere in the United States or Canada, through Vonages VOIP service.
The Vonage service utilizes a broadband Internet connection to place calls, rather than using traditional phone lines.
Vonage VOIP works with an adapter to access high-speed connections. Once connected, when the user picks up their phone to place a call, it translates voice directly into data that is transmitted through the Internet. When the call is answered, it translates the data back to voice.