Agere chips ring up Wi-Fi Internet phones

A new set of chips from Agere will let manufacturers quickly put together mobile phone handsets that can make cheap phone calls over a Wi-Fi connection

A new set of chips from Agere, announced on Tuesday, aims to make it easier for mobile phone makers to integrate cheap Wi-Fi-based Internet telephone calls into their devices.

Some manufacturers are already making wireless voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) devices, but Agere's chipset could bring the technology further into the mainstream. Agere, formerly the microelectronics division of Lucent Technologies, claimed the chips improve the talk and standby times of wireless IP phones currently on the market.

Wireless IP phones allow users to make cheap phone calls over a Wi-Fi-enabled broadband connection in their homes or businesses, or at public Wi-Fi hot spots in airports, coffee shops and hotels. The 802.11b standard, also known as Wi-Fi, allows wireless Internet access usually within a radius of approximately 100 metres around a hub.

Aside from the chips themselves, Agere plans to offer blueprints that will allow hardware makers to quickly build their own products from the technology. The reference design will include software that makes it interoperable with telco NTT's home and business broadband connections in Japan, an early target market for Agere's products.

"Our collaboration with Agere, who is a leader in Wi-Fi and VoIP chips, will help make low-cost, wireless IP telephony more accessible to the millions of customers who have come to rely on broadband services," said Tetsuya Kanada, vice president of broadband for NTT subsidiary NTT-ME, in a statement.

The chipset package includes the T8307 VoIP system-on-a-chip, the WL60010 802.11b media access controller chip, the WL1141 PHY integrated Wi-Fi radio and baseband module and the CSP2200 chip, with audio codecs, power management tools and device drivers. The package includes software drivers for the Linux-based uClinux embedded operating system.

Unit prices for the complete chipset will begin at $30 in sample quantities when the chips begin sampling in September. Volume production is expected in the first quarter of next year.


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