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Netgear, Vonage gear up for VoIP

The companies team up to develop broadband telephony products due in time for the holidays, sources familiar with deal say.

Vonage and Netgear have teamed up to develop broadband telephony products due in time for the holidays, according to sources familiar with the deal.

Vonage, an Internet voice service company, and network equipment maker Netgear plan to announce the agreement Tuesday, the sources said Monday. The first product to be released as a result of this collaboration will be a voice-enabled wireless router based on the 802.11g Wi-Fi standard. The router will be available as early as October, the sources said.

Netgear and Vonage representatives declined to comment for this story.

The announcement means that Vonage customers will be able to plug their phones into Netgear routers to place voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls and wirelessly send data over a broadband connection.

Vonage is one of the leaders in the Internet telephony service business, which typically uses VoIP technology. Netgear is one of the leading makers of wireless networking products.

Availability of VoIP service using Wi-Fi networks is expected to become increasing common in the years to come.

"Voice is a major driver for Wi-Fi, and the economics really begin to take off when new services are available to future handsets," said Craig Mathias, an analyst with research firm Farpoint Group.

While Vonage has been one of the pioneers in the VoIP market, many of the biggest telecom players--including AT&T, the Baby Bell local phone companies and cable companies--also are jumping into the sector with similar Net phone services.

Operating on the Internet frees VoIP from government regulations and heavy taxes, lessening the cost of phone service for consumers.