Wireless VoIP Softphones To Be Released

High-end headset manufacturer Plantronics and softphone maker Xten ink deal to produce VoIP enabled USB headsets that connect wirelessly to computers running Xten software products.

VoIP softphone provider Xten Networks, Inc., Santa Clara, Calif., and headset manufacturer Plantronics, Inc., Santa Cruz, Calif., are partnering to offer softphone capabilities via wireless headsets.

The agreement to work with Plantronics is the first of a handful of SIP Softphone announcements expected in the next few months, including more deals with the headset maker, said Xten Networks president and chief operating officer Erik Lagerway.

The combination of the technologies will enable the user of a cordless headset to plug his base station into the computer via a USB connection to use VoIP capabilities, according to Lagerway.

The headset user will be able to make and disconnect calls using the on-hook and off-hook buttons on the 900 Mhz wireless headsets, which will work directly with the softphone application. The base station will also be able to plug into a traditional phone line to enable the user to make and receive calls via either method, according to Lagerway.

Though Bluetooth-enabled headsets have some similar capabilities, they have very limited range, typically about that of a speakerphone, according to Lagerway. The 900 Mhz wireless headsets has the same range as the typical wireless phone, making it easier for the user to move from place to place while continuing a conversation.

Lagerway said the two companies are also developing speech recognition capabilities that will enable the headset user to use launch calls and other VoIP capabilities with simple commands like: “Call Joe Smith.” The command will work in conjunction with the user’s contact list.

By the second quarter of 2005, Lagerway expects similar capabilities using Pocket PCs and other remote devices. He expects some of the initial announcements of those deals to be made very soon.

Wireless providers, remote device manufactures and others in the telecom industry are looking to take advantage of the growing interest in VoIP, Lagerway added.