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Cell-phone Service Taps Into Net For VoIP

Cell-phone users can make calls over the Internet using a technology developed by i2 Telecom International. The company said the service works with all popular cell-phone services.

"You just make a call from your cell phone to your i2 Telecom box at home," said the firm's Rick Scherle in an interview Wednesday. "And we hook you onto the Internet." Scherle, who is i2 Telecom's senior vice president of marketing, said the service will be available when shipments of the company's new InternetTalker MG-3 begin next month.

The patent-pending technology behind the feature is embedded in the InternetTalker, which connects to existing broadband phone lines and Web connections at users' homes or offices. When a user dials into his home number, the InternetTalker recognizes the cell phone caller ID and immediately links the caller to the VoIP network. The InternetTalker can recognize up to three cell-ID numbers.

When the caller is connected to his home VoIP service, he hears a second dial tone, after which he or she can dial anywhere in the world for no extra charge beyond i2 Telecom's normal service charge. Of course, users pay for their normal cell-phone charge, too.

"This is an exciting application for people who make overseas calls," said Scherle. "It's also good for people who have more than one box." Noting that businesses with different offices use VoIP to eliminate toll charges between the offices, Scherle said the cellular bridge to VoIP can also be a boon for mobile workers. He ticked off some savings made possible by the new service: A call to China, for instance, which typically costs $4.20 a minute from a landline service provider, would cost just 5 cents with the new i2 Telecom service; a call to the U. K., normally $1.75 a minute over landline, is just 3 cents.

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