Skype and Netgear are the latest firms to offer a Wi-Fi phone that works on voice over IP networks.
The jointly developed phone will be available to users before April and allow Skype subscription users to make free calls to each other anywhere in the world using Wi-Fi networks they can access.
Like the Wi-Fi VoIP phone launched by operator Vonage at the end of last year, the Skype handset will not work on paid-for Wi-Fi networks found in public places like airports, bookshops and hotels.
But if users have the correct network ID, they will be able to make and receive calls using private encrypted Wi-Fi networks.
A PC is not required to use the phone. The likes of Avaya and Nokia are planning similar offerings for the large corporate market.
The Skype and Vonage handsets are designed for consumers and SMEs.
While Skype’s new phone allows users to call other Skype users for free using a network ID over Skype’s VoIP network, calls to non-subscribers are charged for, albeit at a cheaper rate than traditional providers.