Take Your Phone Along

David M. Ewalt, 05.24.05, Forbes.com

NEW YORK - Internet telephone services have been slowly catching on as consumers get hip to the promise of cheap phone calls and having the same phone number anywhere you can plug in a computer.

But the services on the market from companies including phone carriers such as Verizon Communications, cable providers such as Comcast and Internet voice vendors such as Packet8 and Vonage aren't particularly portable, often requiring special hardware and making it difficult to access your phone account on a public terminal.

Most voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems install on a home computer and require a special modem. They can't be easily set up on multiple machines, and you certainly wouldn't be able to access your phone account on a public terminal.

Atlanta-based phone company i2 Telecom has changed that with the VoiceStick, a software-based VoIP phone that is loaded on a flash-based USB thumb drive, the same bit of hardware that's become popular for transferring files between PCs.

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