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Verizon Launches Touch-Screen VoIP Hub

For a monthly $34.99 service fee, users can get unlimited calls to the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico.

Verizon VoIP Hub phone

Verizon VoIP Hub phone
(click for larger image)

Verizon Wireless is making a play for the home phone market and soon will launch a touch-screen VoIP phone that can receive text messages and use Web-based widgets.

The Verizon Hub is a desktop phone with a large touch-screen display. After plugging it into a broadband router and paying the monthly $34.99 service fee, users can get unlimited calls anywhere in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. The device also can send and receive text, picture, and video messages, as well as unlimited SMS messages to anyone on a Verizon Wireless phone.

VoIP phones and services are nothing new, but what makes the Hub stand out is the ability to use the touch screen to access Web services. The screen is filled with large icons that can be used to check the weather, update stock information, get directions, find local phone numbers, view movie trailers through V Cast, and access other services.

The Hub also can be used to push contact information and calendar updates to Verizon mobile phones. Users with VZ Navigator and Chaperone can bring those services to Hub as well, Verizon said.

"The Verizon Hub is going to change the way you think about what you want and need your home phone to do," said Mike Lanman, VP and chief marketing officer at Verizon Wireless, in a statement. "Whether you're thinking about getting rid of your home phone or can't live without it, now is the time to try out the Verizon Hub."

The Hub will be available Feb. 1 for $199.99 after a mail-in rebate. The company also will offer additional handsets for other rooms, but it hasn't determined a price yet.

Verizon Wireless isn't the only mobile carrier making a move for the home phone market, as T-Mobile recently rolled out a landline-replacement service. T-Mobile's @Home service is a hybrid service of cellular and VoIP, and it costs $10 a month in addition to a monthly cell phone fee.

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