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Linksys, Verizon team on Net telephony

Verizon will use Linksys phone adapters for its VoIP service, as the market for placing calls over the Net picks up momentum.

SAN FRANCISCO--Verizon Communications, one of the largest local phone providers in the country, is the latest carrier to select Linksys to provide Internet telephony to consumers.

Linksys, a division of Cisco Systems, announced on Wednesday at a press event here that Verizon will use Linksys home networking adapters with Verizon's VoiceWing broadband phone service. The new VoiceWing service allows customers to use their DSL (digital subscriber line) or cable broadband connection to place telephone calls over the Internet rather than over the traditional telephone network.

Customers that use voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology can call anywhere in the United States for a flat monthly rate. Because VoIP calls are placed over the Net, they're free from the government regulations and heavy taxes to which traditional telephone networks are subject.

The Linksys phone adapter is a small piece of equipment that connects a customer's phone to the broadband network. It converts analog telephone calls into digital packets that travel over the Internet. It also offers various calling and call management features.

The consumer VoIP market has picked up momentum over the past several months, as traditional telephone carriers have entered the market. Verizon introduced the VoiceWing broadband phone service back in July. AT&T launched its CallVantage service in March.

Linksys has capitalized on the VoIP frenzy by securing similar deals with other providers, including AT&T and Vonage.

"Residential VoIP is going to be the biggest growth opportunity since wireless," said Charles Giancarlo, president of Linksys and chief technology officer of Cisco. "Traditional phone services add features and capabilities slowly, but now, with VoIP on Linksys, they can bring out new features and capabilities at Internet speed."

Linksys also made several other announcements Wednesday, including a new partnership with retailer Best Buy to launch demonstration centers in more than 550 Best Buy stores over the next few months. The centers will give customers hands-on experience with the home networking technology.

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Linksys also introduced a suite of software tools designed to simplify wireless networking for consumers. The software toolkit will be bundled with select Wireless-G Router and SpeedBooster products, and will work with notebooks that use Intel's Centrino mobile technology.

Finally, Linksys announced a new video camera and wireless product line. The Wireless-G Video Camera now offers integrated audio support, along with video feeds for home or business security surveillance, video conferencing and other Web-enabled communications tools.

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