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9/1/2006
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Panasonic To Make Wi-Fi Phone For Skype

Panasonic's new phone, which provides access to Skype voicemail and call forwarding, will be able to make calls from home, the office, and public Wi-Fi access points.

Panasonic Communications Co. Ltd. on Friday said it plans to offer a Wi-Fi phone for the Skype Internet telephony service.

The phone will be Panasonic's first in a series of products the company has planned for the Voice over IP service used by more than 113 million people worldwide, according to Skype.

Panasonic, based in New York and a subsidiary of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd., said in a statement that the upcoming products follow Internet calling as it enters the mainstream consumer market.

Besides voice calls, the new phone also provides access to Skype voicemail and call forwarding. The device would be able to make calls from public Wi-Fi access points, as well as from a home or office connection.

The phone, which will be available in the fourth quarter, reflects the San Jose, Calif.-based company's push to make its service available through devices other than the PC desktop, where the company launched its service.

Skype is not the first VoIP service provider to work with Panasonic. The phone maker announced in January that it was building a similar product for Skype rival Vonage Holdings Corp.

Cellular phones with VoIP capabilities started hitting the market around the beginning of the year. Cingular Wireless, for example, is among the service providers offering Wi-Fi capable phones, as well as , a seller of discounted phone minutes.

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