Accton Technology of Taiwan has announced plans to release two Wi-Fi VoIP phones in the next few weeks. One model, the VM1185T WiFy SkyFone, will have the popular VoIP software program Skype pre-installed.
The idea behind the technology is to further divorce Internet protocols from a computer. The phones will meld traditional 802.11b/g Wi-Fi standards and existing Voice over Internet Protocol technology. The result will be a phone call that is, for all intents and purposes, free. (Any Wi-Fi charges will apply, of course, but the charge for the phone call will be nothing.)
The caveat, of course, is that the Skype software program, even though it offers relatively painless VoIP phone calls, requires both phone call parties to be using Skype in order to avoid any charges. Making a call to someone who is not using Skype is relatively inexpensive, but it is not entirely free. Still, the software is still freely downloadable and so the potential for a free Wi-Fi VoIP call is there.
The other Accton model, the VM1188T VoWi-Fi, will have VoIP capability, although it won’t have Skype pre-installed. Costs will be in the US$100-$150 range. The handsets will be available first in Europe and the United States.
The announcement is similar to one announced by Netgear at CES last week. That agreement included a phone with Skype built in. A timetable for the Netgear phone releases has not been announced.