Vonage Adds Video to VOIP Service

The broadband phone company plans to sell a videophone with its SIP-based VOIP service early next year.

Buoyed by a recent FCC (Federal Communications Commission) ruling that its services are exempt from state and local regulation and tariffs, VOIP upstart Vonage plans to enter the video telephony market.

In a partnership with broadband videophone maker Viseon, Edison, N.J.-based Vonage Holdings Corp. plans to add video calling services to its SIP (Session Initiation Protocol)-based VOIP (voice over IP) service early next year.

For Vonage, which already bundles its service with adapter-equipped routers from Linksys and Netgear Inc., the expansion into videophone services could open up new market opportunities nationwide.

A company spokesman told eWEEK.com the new service would be available only for Vonage subscribers. He declined to provide details on pricing.

He said the company will target the SMB (small and midsized business) market looking for affordable videoconferencing services. In addition to its consumer offerings, Vonage hawks special service plans for SMBs.

Viseon markets the VisiFone, a desktop phone with a 6-inch LCD panel, a CCD (charge-coupled device) camera with adjustable color and brightness controls and a built-in speaker phone. The device has been fitted with audio inputs and NTSC (National Television Standards Committee) or PAL (Phase Alternating Line) video input/output connections. It uses the H.323 protocol.

The VisiFone sells for $599, and it is likely that a Vonage-branded version will be available in the same price range.

The Vonage-branded VisiFone could be released as early as January in all markets where Vonages broadband phone service is sold.

Vonage wont be the only player in the videophone space. Santa Clara, Calif.-based 8x8 Inc.s Packet8 service was the first to market with a $29.95-a-month videophone plan.

Jamesburg, N.J.-based VoicePulse Inc. also plans to add a videophone to its VOIP service in the second half of 2005.

"Weve always built our service with the intention of providing a huge array of new features, including video," said Ravi Sakaria, president and CEO of VoicePulse.


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