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3/4/2003
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Cisco Launches Internet Telephony Push

The networking vendor unveils low-end and high-end voice-over-IP phones in an effort to broaden the appeal of Internet telephony for business.

Cisco Systems on Monday unveiled new low-end and high-end voice-over-IP phones, looking to broaden the appeal of Internet telephony for businesses.

The new Cisco IP Phone 7902G, priced at $130 and shipping now, becomes the vendor's lowest-cost voice-over-IP desk phone--previously, the cheapest offering was priced at $165. Low-end phones from competitors tend to be priced at around $130.

Cisco execs say the cheaper hardware will make it easier for small and cash-strapped businesses to get over the initial costs of implementing a voice-over-IP system and begin to benefit from the long-term operational cost savings. "It extends all of the benefits of voice over IP to companies that didn't want to spend $300 a phone," says Hank Lambert, director of product marketing, enterprise voice.

Cheaper phones should be key to increasing adoption of voice over IP, agrees Burton Group analyst David Passmore. "The phone [I use] cost $600, and there just aren't a lot of people who can afford that," he says.

Another new product release, the Cisco 7912G, will be available in May for $245. It features an extended display and more features, and it's designed for use by workers who conduct moderate phone traffic.

In an effort to extend voice-over-IP technology to Wi-Fi networks, Cisco also unveiled a new wireless VOIP phone, the 7920. Priced at $595 and due in June, the device, which looks like a cell phone, connects to IP networks using 802.11b technology. The 7920 could work like a cordless phone within an office, letting workers take their phones with them when they go into a meeting or on an errand, Passmore says.

Cisco says it's also in talks with cellular vendors and providers to create a cellular-capable version, which could receive calls even when out of Wi-Fi range.

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