WiFi hotspots will soon see regular use as virtual phone booths, as manufacturers move to bring Skype-compatible WiFi handsets to the mass market.

Belkin, Edge-Core, Netgear and Standard Microsystems have all confirmed plans to deliver the new phones, which will all come preloaded with Skype software.

The devices can be used at open WiFi access points that do not require browser authentication, Skype said. The move is designed to give Skype users the mobility of a mobile phone, but retain the ability to use the eBay-owned telephony company's free or inexpensive calling rates. There is no difference in fees for calls made from WiFi phones than for those made from PCs.

The phones will hit the market in the third quarter, Skype said, and will be sold directly from the Skype online store. Netgear's phone is displayed on the Skype store, listed as "coming soon" and priced at £140, including VAT.