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Vonage, Viseon Put a Face on VoIP

Vonage, a Voice over IP upstart, and Viseon , a videophone specialist, are partnering to put a face on broadband telephony, the companies announced today. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The collaboration between the Edison, N.J., and Dallas companies will allow consumers and small businesses to make videophone calls anywhere in the world.

The phones will be offered through Vonage's Web site and 7,000 retailers nationwide beginning early next year, Vonage spokesman Mitchell Slepian told internetnews.com. Pricing has not yet been set.

Videophones have been hyped for decades, but technical limitations have bedeviled vendors and carriers. Broadband access and technical standards, such as Session Initiation Protocol , are changing that.

"We're launching knowing that videophone technology has improved," Slepian said. "The quality will be excellent."

Viseon has been working on video technology for 10 years. Its VisiFone product is used by companies, governments and educational institutions.

VisiFone II, which is being designed for consumers, will launch in the first quarter and is the phone that's being packaged with Vonage's service.

Vonage, which boasts more than 300,000 subscribers, is not the first VoIP player to embrace videophone technology. Earlier this year, 8x8 began packaging its videophone with its Packet8 broadband telephony service.

The Santa Clara, Calif., company's standalone desktop phone began shipping this summer and uses a broadband connection (DSL or cable modem) to transmit audio and video. It costs $299 plus a $29.95 monthly fee for the service.