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Linksys Answers The Call For VoIP Service

The new Linksys WRT54GP2A-AT wireless router includes two phone jacks for VoIP service. How well does it stack up? We take an in-depth look.

There have been times in the not-so-distant past when getting phone service installed or fixing an existing line was a slow, painful process. In such a scenario, businesses would be hit especially hard, as a malfunctioning phone line or system could seriously compromise business activities and cut into profits and productivity. It's amazing how much things have changed. Today, for any solution provider offering broadband Internet access, it's a simple matter to also provide VoIP telephone service. After all, much of the telephone system is already digitized.

In fact, business users with broadband Internet access can set up new phone lines on their own, and solution providers can provide telephone service even in areas where conventional phone service is not available. There are many ways to go about it, but one of the easiest is by using Linksys' new WRT54GP2A-AT Wireless-G Broadband Router in conjunction with AT&T's VoIP telephone service.

The WRT54GP2A-AT router includes an 802.11g wireless access point, which works with 802.11g receivers at 54 Mbps and with 802.11b receivers at 11 Mbps. It also contains a four-port full-duplex 10/100 switch for wired Ethernet devices. Up to four PCs can connect directly, or additional hubs and switches can be added to create a network of any size. The device's router function lets the entire network share a single high-speed Internet connection.

The WRT54GP2A-AT router also features two standard telephone jacks, which operate independently. These jacks can only be activated for users of AT&T's CallVantage Service, however. The service allows the attached phones to be used like traditional phones through the broadband connection. Phones attached to these jacks are functional even while other users are surfing the Internet. The CallVantage service provides each user with a new, unique phone number and connects VoIP calls to the existing telephone grid. The WRT54GP2A-AT router is compatible with all standard telephones, though for large offices it's better to use cordless phones so users are not tethered to the router. The WRT54GP2A-AT router costs $139.

If only one CallVantage phone number has been paid for and assigned, both phone jacks on the WRT54GP2A-AT router use the same number. This configuration is ideal for a small business with few employees. For an extra fee, users can receive a second CallVantage phone number, ideal for installing a phone and fax machine in a small office. CallVantage convenience features include call waiting, caller ID, voice mail and call forwarding. Users keep the same phone number for life, regardless of where in the country the phone is used.

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