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Face-to-face VoIP coming soon 8X8 to offer videophones in Bay Area

September 1, 2004View for printing

Call it the other VoIP -- Video over Internet Protocol.

8x8, a Santa Clara chip maker that transformed itself into an Internet telecommunications company with its Packet8 service, is about to start pushing its new videophone.

By Sam Diaz

Mercury News ... 9551568.htm

The company just secured a spot on the shelves of Fry's stores and has finished a series of TV commercials featuring San Francisco 49ers players.

But the videophone's launch in the diverse Bay Area -- following its initial debut in the New York City region -- is bound to generate the biggest buzz for Packet8. There's a reason the artwork on the videophone's packaging proclaims ``hello'' in multiple languages.

The gadget is targeted at people whose friends, family and business associates are around the world. Not only does Packet8 deliver a new face-to-face experience but it also offers it for less money than a traditional phone conversation.

That's because calls are routed through the Internet. Instead of a traditional phone cord linking the desktop phone to a hole in the wall, the videophone uses an ethernet cable connected to a modem or network router.

And because the phone doesn't care if your local phone number is plugged into the Internet in Sunnyvale, Sydney or Singapore, unlimited calls between subscribers of the Packet8 service are included in the $29.95 monthly rate.

Calls from an Internet-enabled Packet8 videophone to a traditional phone will be assessed per-minute fees, from 23 cents to Cairo and 16 cents to Bangalore to 3 cents to Mexico City and 2 cents to Hong Kong.

Sounds cool, doesn't it? But there's a couple of catches. First, if you want to see the person you're calling, they need to be using a Packet8 videophone as well. Other videophones are not compatible with the service.

Second, the speed of your Internet connection will determine the quality of service. On residential high-speed connections, the video quality can be bumpy and the voice transmission delayed and choppy. On faster corporate networks, the experience is much better.

The phone is priced, after rebates, at $300 or two for $500. Contact Sam Diaz at or (408) 920-5021.

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Reprinted under the Fair Use doctrine of international copyright law. Full copyright retained by the original publication. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

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