updated 7/12/2005 3:07:30 PM ET 2005-07-12T19:07:30

Internet telephone service tiptoed a few more steps into the wireless realm on Tuesday as Skype and Boingo unveiled a service to enable Voice-over-Internet calls over Wi-Fi hot spots, while Samsung and LG announced plans to develop mobile phones that combine cellular and Wi-Fi technologies.

Skype Zones, costing $8 per month, allows laptop users to make phone calls using Skype Technologies SA's popular Internet phone services whenever they're near one of Boingo Wireless Inc.'s 18,000 transmitters in public locations such as coffee shops, airports and hotels.

Calls using Skype's basic computer-to-computer service, which bypasses the public telephone network, will remain free. Skype Technologies SA will still charge extra for calls dialed to a regular phone number or received from a regular phone number.

The fee for Skype Zones does not include access to the Internet and e-mail, which still costs $22 a month for unlimited usage from Boingo. But compared with the Internet package, where there are extra roaming charges in certain countries, the Skype service includes free access to all of Boingo's hot spots in about 40 nations.

Also Tuesday, Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc. of Korea both announced deals to use a new hybrid wireless technology from Kineto Wireless Inc. to develop mobile phones that can pass a call from a cellular network to a Wi-Fi network without interrupting the connection.

Samsung is licensing the technology to develop new mobile phones, while LG said it will be collaborating with Kineto on new hybrids. The companies did not say when they expect to introduce the new phones.

The new technology, known as UMA for Unlicensed Mobile Access, is designed to provide better call quality indoors, where cellular signals turn weak and short-range Wi-Fi signals are strong. UMA also may lighten the load on crowded cellular networks by allowing carriers to divert phone calls from their towers.

While live trials are already underway, wireless service providers have been hesitant about embracing UMA.

One reason may be that when a cellular call is handed off to a Wi-Fi network, the conversation is transmitted using Voice-over-Internet Protocol, or VoIP -- a technology users associate with cheaper fees than mobile phones.

But despite the apparent benefits in terms of call quality and network capacity, it is unclear whether cellular carriers might be willing to provide such discounts.

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