Tuesday, 24 January 2006 08:18

2006 year of wireless VoIP trials: IDC

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A recent study from technology research group IDC found that 2006 will be the year of trials and proof-of-concepts of wireless VoIP deployments.

The study, "Australia Wireless VoIP - On Trial in 2006", found that trials will be particularly driven by mass market availability of dual-mode (Wi-Fi/GSM) handsets as well as IP telephony vendors' integration of Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC) features into their IP PBXs.

According to IDC, for the Australian enterprise today, the most typical wireless VoIP installation will involve the coexistence of Wi-Fi handsets and thick access points independently, or thin access points with their corresponding wireless switch. Other emerging flavours are wireless VoIP running over a wireless mesh network, as well as the usage of softphones and headsets over Pre-WiMax networks with the ability to roam over the metro area network.

IDC says the 'centralised versus decentralised' argument in relation to medium to large WLAN deployments is long gone, won over by the security, manageability, scalability and lowered total cost of ownership offered by the centralised/wireless switch-based architecture. The WLAN vendor landscape today looks very different to that a year ago with partnerships and acquisitions abound with Aruba partnering with Alcatel and Netgear, Meru with Avaya and Juniper, Trapeze pairing up with 3Com, D-Link, Enterasys and Nortel, and also acquisitions which have taken place with Cisco-Airespace and Siemens-Chantry.

"The crux of the argument today lies in the feature sets and integration capabilities of the WLAN products, spotlighting particularly on security, VoIP and overall integration into the enterprise network infrastructure," said Shing Quah, market analyst, telecommunications at IDC.

The deployment of IP Telephony systems have already surpassed those of traditional systems; and WLANs are being increasingly installed at company sites. As such, combining the two technologies is a logical step especially for businesses with highly mobile employees, reaching beyond wireless VoIP early adopter industries like healthcare, education, retail and manufacturing, according to IDC.

"Enterprises are moving beyond cost saving to focusing on applications available through VoIP systems as their key reasons for deployment; this implies that there will be increased interest in ensuring that their WLAN and VoIP systems are ready for future Wireless VoIP deployments," saidd Susana Vidal, senior analyst, telecommunications.

For the end users, the plethora of equipment vendors in the market implies that they are spoilt for choice when it comes to wireless VoIP offerings. This allows them to shop around and opt for standards-based solutions to prevent proprietary vendor-lock in and avoid future inter-site interoperability issues. For the carriers, wireless VoIP also presents itself as voice service offering opportunity over a joint-venture wireless mesh network with local councils; and also as part of an FMC solution deployed jointly with handsets and infrastructure providers to increase the Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) of their business customers.


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Stan Beer

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Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 35 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.

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