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Vonage connects with Linksys, Netgear on VoIP

Vonage teams with Wi-Fi equipment makers Linksys and Netgear on voice over Internet Protocol.

Vonage is teaming up with gear makers Linksys and Netgear to make voice over Internet Protocol service available through Wi-Fi equipment.

Vonage announced the partnerships Tuesday. Vonage's broadband telephony service will be available with two of Linksys' products, a router and a phone adapter. Both products are immediately available.

As expected, the first product to be released as a result of the collaboration between Vonage and Netgear will be a voice-enabled wireless router based on the 802.11g Wi-Fi standard. The router will be available as early as October, Netgear said.

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

The Linksys devices will be available first. The $59 Linksys Phone Adapter plugs into Wi-Fi equipment, such as a router, and allows a consumer to connect a phone to the broadband connection to make VoIP calls. The $89 Broadband Router includes two phone ports, which would allow two phones to place VoIP calls at once.

The products, co-branded by Linksys and Vonage, will be available in retail stores and directly to Vonage customers, according to Malachy Moynihan, vice president of engineering and product marketing at Linksys. A division of Cisco Systems, Linksys is one of the top makers of Wi-Fi equipment. Moynihan added that by the end of the year, VoIP will be available on all new Linksys products, which will also work with VoIP service from other providers.

"Voice is the first real service available over broadband, and this is our initial step into VoIP," Moynihan said. He added that Linksys will take advantage of Cisco's experience with VoIP in the enterprise. Their efforts will lead to consumer handsets that can wirelessly access Wi-Fi networks to make VoIP calls, he said.

Netgear's router, similar to Linksys' will allow customers to plug their phones into the router to place voice VoIP calls and wirelessly send data over a broadband connection.

Operating on the Internet frees VoIP from government regulations and heavy taxes, lessening the cost of phone service for consumers. VoIP will also boost the Wi-Fi market, according to Craig Mathias, an analyst with research firm Farpoint Group.

"Voice is a major driver for Wi-Fi, and the economics really begin to take off when new services are available to future handsets," he said.

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.