Making a call? Use your iPAQ Pocket PC

Compaq's iPAQ Pocket PCs can now make telephone calls and even international calls at domestic rates.

SINGAPORE--Compaq's iPAQ Pocket PCs can now make telephone calls and even international calls at domestic rates.

All this is now possible thanks to a deal between local communications services company UGotACall Pte Ltd and Compaq Computer Singapore Pte Ltd.

Targeted at the corporate market, companies would have to first install UGotACall's Virtual Intelligent Agent (VIA) server and VIA client software for individual iPAQs.

Then, a seven-digit VIA number will be assigned to each iPAQ so users can receive calls.

The main catch is that your office would have to be equipped with a wireless Local Area Network (WLAN). In addition, to make international calls, the recipient would need to have a VIA server installed.

iPAQ users can make calls while they on the move--so long as they are within the WLAN.

This solution is obviously not for the man on the street. "It's targeted at companies with multiple geographical locations so they can save on international call charges," said UGotACall CEO Terence Mak.

Besides making voice calls, users can also send and receive emails and download fax messages (as TIFF files) on their iPAQ, Mak claimed.

The server will cost US$40,000, which includes 1,000 copies of the VIA client software, Mak added.

He noted that two multinational companies in Singapore are currently on trial with the system. He declined to name the companies but expects to announce customer wins in two to three months.

The Compaq-UGotACall solution is not the first in the market.

Last month, Hong Kong-based REALVision Group unveiled a Palm-compatible accessory that allows the Palm V series of handhelds and IBM Workpad c3 (running on Palm OS) to make and receive GSM 900 or 1800-based calls.

Called CarpeDiem V GSM communicator, the 140g device is attached to the back of the handheld, and comes with a built-in earphone jack that lets users talk via a hands-free headset.

Established in March 1999, UGotACall received a Service Based Operator license from the Info-communications Development Authority of Singapore last July. UGotACall partnered StarHub Internet Pte Ltd in November to jointly promote its communication services to business PC users.