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Net phone provider calls on Singapore

SIPphone pairs up with Singapore Telecom to offer VoIP calls over any public phone system in the region and from mobile phones worldwide--not just with other online parties.

Singapore Telecommunications has lent its weight to an emerging Internet telephony standard.

The Singapore-based carrier on Monday announced a collaboration with Session Initiated Protocol (SIP) provider SIPphone to jointly offer the latter's services in the region.

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The deal would enable a user with SIPphone gear to place and receive calls over any public phone system, as well as to and from mobile phones worldwide--not just with other parties connected to the Internet.

SIP, developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force, is a protocol that supports Internet telephone, video phone and instant-messaging services. In recent months, gear makers like Avaya and Nortel Networks have scaled up efforts to target businesses.

SIPphone is a venture and Lindows founder Michael Robertson started last August. It sells SIP-capable equipment on its Web site at prices starting at $75. A broadband connection is required, but calls made between SIPphone users are then free.

Through the deal with SingTel, which takes effect later this quarter, SIPphone owners will also be able to connect to SingTel's public switched telephone networks (PSTN), including mobile phones.

"We have worked closely with SIPphone to ensure a seamless and well-integrated user experience when dialing both SIP-to-PSTN and PSTN-to-SIP calls," Richard Tan, SingTel's vice president for international carrier services, said in a statement.

According to the company, non-SIP users who wish to make calls to SIP phones will have to connect via a Singapore-based access number and pay the standard local or international toll charges. Rates for making SIP-to-PSTN calls have yet to be determined.

Aloysius Choong of CNETAsia reported from Singapore.
Reuters contributed to this report.