Vonage, which is in U.S. beta trials with handsets from VTech and UTStarcom, plans to bring to bring the handsets out in the U.S. at the end of the summer or early autumn, said Kerry Ritz, Vonages U.K. managing director. Ritz also disclosed that the company is in alpha trials with business customers for video-over-IP conferencing services.
In addition, Boingo Wireless plans to bring out its own VOIP phone through a partnership with SK Telecom, the companys president told an audience at The Wireless LAN Event here.
Although the first phones will be so-called "single-mode" handsets — WiFi only — the VOIP companies are already beginning to court and sign deals with traditional cellular providers. So-called dual-mode wireless/cellular phones are on the horizon, forcing VOIP providers to begin talks with traditional cellular service providers.
So why would a cellular provider, which charges by the minute or the packet, want to partner with a VOIP provider that could potentially sidestep their revenue stream? "Sooner or later its going to happen, with someone," Ritz said. "Its inevitable."