Converged cellular-WiFi phones are all the rage (or, rather, will soon be all the rage) and companies with market savvy have noticed. The latest to join the lengthening list of vendors (e.g., Wistron, Accton) offering cellular-WiFi phones is Netgear, which last week began shipping its SPH101 (it demonstrated the unit in January at a trade show). The company says that the SPH101 is the first publicly announced handset certified to make Skype WiFi calls. However, at $249.99, it's not quite the least expensive unit on the market.
The phone will allow users to make unlimited free domestic and international calls to other Skype users over a wireless network without being tied to a computer. The phone will work anywhere in the world where a user has access either to to a secured or open WiFi network (note: The phone will work only where the AP does not require browser-based authentication).
Netgear's Vivek Pathela says that the device would appeal to "die-hard Skype users worldwide who want to experience Skype in a truly mobile fashion without a PC." Infonetics Research's Richard Webb says: "Voice over wireless LAN adoption is primed for a surge beyond enterprises and into the everyday lives of millions of global consumers looking for a cost-sensitive telephony solution."
For more on Netgear's cellular-WiFi phone
- see Netgear's Web site
MORE: See this backgrounder about making WiFi VoIP calls without a PC.