According to a recent study conducted by New York-based ABI Research, convergence will eventually push most Voice over IP (VoIP) (define - news - alert - tutorial)-enabled communication providers to deliver the calls via a WiFi network.
Senior analyst Phil Solis stated that telecoms will offer devices that use a bundle of available networks to process calls via WiFi. VoIP provider “ Vonage ( news- alert) will soon offer dedicated VoWiFi handsets that will allow users to place VoIP calls wirelessly, either through their home WiFi access point, or, in partnership with Boingo Wireless, through any of Boingo's network of public WiFi hotspots (they have 11,000 worldwide).”
"There is a downside to this first offering," says Solis. "A user will have to carry the Vonage VoIP handset plus a cellular phone to get full coverage." But that may change in the near future when more mobile device manufacturers will make dual (cellular/WiFi)-compatible devices available at least for business customers. The study mentions that Motorola (news – alert - quote) plans to release such a device in the corporate market by the end of this year or early 2005. Experts believe that falling chip prices will lead these companies to go into creating these devices for the consumer market as well in the near future.
Before that happens, however, the study notes the current efforts of telecoms such as SBC and Cingular Wireless in addressing the consumer market by giving them a taste of seamless connectivity between cellular and WiFi hotspots through cellular/mobile devices. I covered this offering release about two weeks ago. When customers sign up for DSL services with SBC, they will be able to use any of the network's public hotspots with their mobile devices, as well as many available via a roaming agreement with Wayport, for just US$1.99 extra monthly. Initially, the study says, this will appeal to users wanting Internet access and data-based services, but as VoIP becomes available through wireless handsets, customers could be able to make their voice calls that way as well.
Convergence between cellular/mobile and WiFi networks was certainly a very hot topic among the speakers and conference attendees at our latest Internet Telephony Conference and EXPO last month in Los Angeles. I really look forward to learn about the developments to unravel during the next few months until we meet again in Miami for our next show…
|Johanne Torres is contributing editor for TMCnet.com and Internet Telephony magazine. Previously, she was
assistant editor for EContent magazine in Connecticut. She
can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.