Experts talk up enterprise voice over Wi-Fi

Experts talk up enterprise voice over Wi-Fi

Enterprises will embrace the technology ...eventually

Voice over Wi-Fi has made some inroads into consumer markets, but several inhibiting factors are temporarily restraining its adoption by business, according to a new study from ABI Research.

"The future is pretty bright, but it will be a little while before voice over Wi-Fi becomes a horizontal application that is attractive to mainstream enterprises," said ABI Research vice president and research director Stan Schatt.

"We are seeing historic early Wi-Fi adopters with special needs becoming early adopters of this technology in key verticals such as healthcare, retail, manufacturing and hospitality. Large enterprise clients, however, have tended to be more conservative."

Schatt believes that there are several hurdles to overcome, not least of which is the complexity of this embryonic technology.

In almost all cases voice over Wi-Fi requires extensive partnering between manufacturers and vendors of individual system elements at the handset and network levels.

"Enterprise voice over Wi-Fi is a complicated market because there are so many disparate pieces of technology that have to work together," explained Schatt.

"That requires a lot of partnering, and some vendors are better at partnering than others.

"Cisco Systems, Trapeze Networks, Xirrus Networks, DiVitas Networks and the SpectraLink division of Polycom have all found partnering models appropriate to their niches and needs."

Other problems include the lack of industry-wide standards. The Wi-Fi Alliance is not scheduled to start enterprise voice over Wi-Fi equipment interoperability testing until Spring 2008.

"Vendors have jumped in with proprietary solutions. So for now you are still forced to go with a one-vendor solution," said Schatt.

The start of certification testing on enterprise-grade Wi-Fi handsets will go a long way towards opening this market up."