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Wi-Fi Adapter For Smart Phone Paves Way For Mobile VoIP

Wi-Fi capability for smart phones, targeted initially for high-speed data connectivity, is beginning to spur the introduction of VoIP to mobile phone subscribers.
Wi-Fi capability for smart phones, targeted initially for high-speed data connectivity, is beginning to spur the introduction of VoIP to mobile phone subscribers.

Executives at Enfora LP said sales of the firm's Wi-Fi adapter for the Treo 650 are taking off in North America and some users expect the device will eventually pave the way for VoIP calling. The adapter called the "sled" clips onto the Treo.

"People want the sled for connectivity for high speed Internet data now," said Jeff Newman, senior vice president of business development. "It doesn't support VoIP yet, but that's where Wi-Fi is headed long term." He said there are some VoIP software applications under development for use with the device, although none have yet made much of an impact in the market.

In a related development, PeerMe Inc. announced VoIP software for the Motorola Q smart phone. PeerMe's CEO Tom Lasater said the software is available in Beta test now. The software add-on has also been developed for the Treo 700w.

Verizon Wireless and Sprint, which use EV-DO infrastructure, operate the fastest networks at present including the Samsung SCH-i730 and the XV6700, which offer Wi-Fi capability.

The VoIP-cum-Wi-Fi market is still in its infancy as different network infrastructures are being tailored to operate with the different phones in the marketplace. For instance, the Enfora Wi-Fi adapter is meeting a demand by Treo 650 users who were frustrated when they couldn't get Wi-Fi capability on their handset.

One advantage cited by users of the Enfora sled is that users can surf the Internet faster with Wi-Fi than they can with the underlying EV-DO network infrastructure. Palm's new Treo 700p smartphone is much faster, but it lacks some popular software features that are included in the Treo 650.

"The sled works with any Treo 650," said Francis Regan, Enfora test engineer. "A lot of loyal Palm users who want Wi-Fi are buying it. And there are some enterprise applications, too." He said the sled, which attaches under the Treo 650, is easy to set up. Regan noted that Palm was "very cooperative" as Enfora developed the sled. The device can be acquired " for about $145 " from Palm online outlets as well as from online retail mobile stores.

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