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Contributing Writer

Mixing up voice and wireless

Oct 29, 20032 mins
Cellular NetworksNetwork SecurityVoIP

* Moves afoot to bring voice over wireless

On both Network World’s Voice over IP and Wireless LANs Technology Tours, attendees mentioned a new trend they are interested in hearing more about: voice over wireless.

By merging voice and wireless technologies, companies can create communications systems without all the wiring. It also lets companies that are making the investment in wireless for data communications to get added benefit by throwing their voice traffic onto the same network – resulting in more bang for the buck.

The first concern that sprung to mind for me is the finicky nature of voice. Unlike data, voice requires a high standard for packet delivery. Therefore, a wireless line, which is sensitive to the environment and frequency interruptions seems a mismatch.

But already the IEEE is hard at work to address this issue by developing the 802.11e standard. This at its core is a guideline for quality of service for voice, video and data over LANs. It seeks to outline classes of service for delay-sensitive applications – especially those traveling over wireless “links.”

In a recent Network World Tech Update, Jeff Thomas of Alcatel explained the current modes for traffic delivery over wireless and how those are going to change with emerging standards and standard subsets. A big problem that exists right now, he says, is that current modes of delivery do not differentiate between traffic types – in other words, they cannot distinguish between voice, video and data. So additions must be made to account for the nuances of each type of traffic. (For more on the ins and outs of the various modes, check out

The standard, however, is not expected to be completed, until next year. However, wireless companies are already working on interim standards. Vendors from all over the board – including Cisco, Avaya, Symbol, Vocera, etc. – are trying to make their wireless products voice-capable or their voice products wireless-enabled. So look for more in this arena.

And look for next year’s Wireless LANs and Voice over IP Technology Tours to delve more deeply into this topic from both angles.

What do you think? Let me know at