• United States
by Steve Taylor and Larry Hettick

Wireless VoIP a top priority for 2004

Nov 03, 20032 mins

* Survey shows WLANs and VoIP belong together

In the survey conducted for Steve’s 2003 VoIP State-of-the-Market Report, several questions were asked that for various reasons didn’t make it into the final published results. But we promised that we would continue to share some of these results with you.

One of these questions was, “How important is each of the following applications in your VoIP deployment?” There were 13 sample applications – plus “other” – for respondents to choose from. We then determined the most important applications by taking the number of respondents who chose an answer of either “Very Important” or “Extremely Important.”

We didn’t find it surprising that unified messaging topped the list. But we were a little surprised that interactive voice response (IVR) came in second, and more than a little surprised that wireless LANs (IEEE 802.11) came in third. In fact, WLANs even edged out desktop collaboration (CTI and SIP), desktop voice/video conferencing, and the IP contact center.

Now admittedly we’re not necessarily claiming that everything listed as an “application” makes for an apples-to-apples comparison. Nevertheless, the message is clear. Two of the hottest areas in our industry – WLANs and VoIP – are looking for synergy.

This also raises some interesting questions, not the least of which has to do with bandwidth management. Making VoIP work in a LAN is a no-brainer when you’re throwing switched 100M bit/sec Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet at the problem. Squeezing the same performance out of shared, limited-bandwidth radio channels can be a bit more challenging, to say the least. There’s only a limited spectrum available, so voice could be actively competing with bandwidth-hungry data applications.

Next time we’ll continue this discussion by looking at wireless handsets for use with VoIP.