The Quick Start Guide to VOIP for the Home, Home Office, and Small Business

Is the Wi-Fi VOIP Phone the Next Generation Cell Phone?

If you haven't already had it up to HERE with the latest lingo, here's another: Wi-Fi VOIP. Wi-Fi (say "Why-Fye") and VOIP (voice-over-IP) are the "technologies du jour" that are taking cell phones to the next level.

In a nutshell, VOIP allows you to make and receive calls on the Internet instead of through the regular telephone network. The cost of making long distance calls using VOIP services are a fraction of the cost of traditional long distance. VOIP broadband phone providers like Vonage and Packet8 are signing up subscribers in droves.

But for cell phone users to take advantage of VOIP, there has to be away to get the wireless voice signal "out of the air" so to speak and onto the Internet. Enter Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi is a type of short range wireless networking based on the 802.11 standard. Wi-Fi cell phones are able to transmit voice over a local wireless network to a wireless access point (a Wi-Fi base station), which then converts the radio signals into VOIP packets and sends them over the Internet. 

In order for a Wi-Fi VOIP phone call to work, you have to be in range of a Wi-Fi network or hotspot. Coffee shops like Starbucks, restaurants, airports, and malls are typical locations where you can find Wi-Fi hotspots operating today.

What Wi-Fi does for cell phones is that it means you can use the Internet to make and receive calls instead of the cellular network and take advantage of low cost VOIP services. Ideally, the phone switches automatically to Wi-Fi as you move into range of an public Wi-Fi hot spot. When you're not in range, the cell phone reverts to regular cell network.

One such phone new to market is the UTStarcom F3000.

wi-fi voip phone

For a first look at this phone, see TheVOIPWeblog.

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