• United States
by Steve Taylor and Larry Hettick

Which handset is most appropriate for wireless?

Nov 05, 20032 mins

* Different handset options for using VoIP and WLANs together

As we discussed last time, there’s an emerging demand for voice over IP to be integrated with wireless LAN technology. The desired result is clear: the ability to move throughout a campus with a telephony instrument using some type of wireless technology. There are several ways to accomplish this. Today we’ll concentrate on the “pure” VoIP options.

The simplest option is to use a VoIP phone that has a traditional phone’s form factor plus an integral 802.11 interface. This has the advantage of simplifying the moves, adds, and changes for the cable plant. And since most users would not take an admittedly somewhat clunky device with them from meeting to meeting, the traffic engineering on the WLAN side is somewhat simplified.

Similarly there are a multitude of portable 802.11 VoIP instruments, such as those from Cisco and Mitel, that look a lot like the cordless phones that you use as a consumer. The major challenge in deploying these phones isn’t the phone technology itself so much as the WLAN infrastructure to support campus-wide (or company-wide) coverage. 

A closely related option is using a soft-phone client on a notebook that’s 802.11-enabled. Even though soft phones are seeing less than full acceptance, this is clearly a place where the soft phone excels. You have your wired VoIP (or traditional) phone on your desk. When you move from meeting to meeting, your phone capabilities follow you (as desired) on the notebook computer that you’re hauling along for other purposes.

And staying with the soft-phone client idea, it’s certainly not unreasonable to be looking for PDA clients that work with a headset and 802.11 capabilities – resulting in yet another converged device.

If that’s not enough options for you, wait until next time.