Berlin (Germany) - With over 100 million customers already tapped into the voice-over IP messenger, Skype is now accessible through the first pair of cordless phones that integrate Skype software with a traditional landline phone, without the need to connect to a PC. The new phones will function almost identically to a regular handset - with the exception of emergency calls.
Skype phones have been available for over a year, but they require a Wi-Fi connection to a computer. Philips and Netgear are first to allow users to place calls using embedded Skype software without a separate connection to a PC. Skype to Skype calls are free and, at least until the end of the year calls to regular U.S. phone numbers are free as well.
Other premium Skype features are also available, such as Skype Out, which permits international calls, and Skype ln, which adds Skype Voicemail and the ability to receive incoming calls from landline and cell phones. Existing Skype subscribers will be able to download their contact list to the phone. To extend the contact list, users can search for other Skype members directly from the phones.
The connection to the phones comes from a DECT base station that interfaces with a broadband line for Skype calls and a traditional phone line for all other calls.
Philips VoIP841 cordless phone will be available for the 2006 holiday season, the availability of the Netgear phone has not been announced.
Keyspan also announced a new Skype phone that does not require a PC connection, although it offers the ability to open and close the Skype application on a nearby computer by pressing a button on the handset. They Keyspan phone will be priced at about $80.