The use of 802.11 technology, also known as WiFi
, is moving away from being simply a way to wirelessly send data to and from computers, and is becoming a channel for voice communications as well. Combining the flexibility of Internet-based telephony with the convenience of wireless communications is what Voice over WiFi
(VoWiFi), sometimes referred to as “Mobile VoIP
,” is all about.
The growth of VoWiFi is occurring in a variety of sectors, including education. For example, ABI Research (News
) recently predicted
that by 2013, 99 percent of North American universities will use WiFi (News
) for voice and
data communications. Growing demand for products and services that enable VoWiFi is introducing new and exciting opportunities for carriers and vendors.
One company that sees a definite future for VoWiFi is South Korea-based UniData Communication Systems, a provider of IP
telecommunications solutions. Founded in 1997, UniData now provides solutions in four categories — quality of service (QoS), carrier, enterprise, and original device manufacturer (ODC) — along with several models of cordless handsets for business and residential use.
UniData’s wireless phones are SIP-based, meaning they use the Session Initiation Protocol (News
) standard to deliver Internet phone connectivity to cordless handsets. This makes inexpensive voice communications possible wherever there is a broadband WiFi connection available.
At the NXTcomm08 show next week, UniData will be demoing one of its existing WiFi handsets (the WPU-7700
, pictured, which was introduced in January) and unveiling its new WPU-8000 WiFi video phone that can conference up to three users on a single call.
What differentiates this new phone from competitive products, UniData’s Director of Marketing Matthew Park said, is its ability to operate as a true stand-alone unit. Unlike other videoconferencing products that must be installed in rooms equipped with PCs (for LAN port connectivity), the WPU-8000 has no such limitations.
“WPU-8000 is a personalized phone that allows users to have live videoconferences in any area with wireless Internet access,” Park told TMCnet. “Also, it provides cost-effective calls since it uses unlicensed radio frequency.”
Like UniData’s other offerings, the products being highlighted at NXTcomm08 are built around a value proposition with three parts: quality of service (QoS
), quality of life (QoL) and quality of experience (QoE).
In the QoS category, features of UniDat’s products include robust security (WPA2, WEP, UMA
), layer 2/layer 3 hand over for automatic roaming, enhanced power save technology for longer battery life, and patented WMM technology for high quality voice.
In the QoL category, UniData’s products offer an easy-to-use mobile phone user interface (UI), 802.11 broadband capabilities for data/video/voice use in converged networks, auto provisioning to make the product registration process faster and easier, and interoperability so rich call features work right out of the box.
In the QoE category, features of UniData’s products include multimedia service, support for extensive SIP applications, SMS and cat via SIP messaging, and presence capabilities for in-building navigation.
UniData’s WiFi phones, including the new WPU-8000, compete with products from Cisco, Polycom and Linksys (News
). The company’s CTO, Y.S. Lee, said that UniData stands apart from its competitors due to more than a decade of experience specifically with WiFi technology. UniData did not need to turn to third-party WiFi technology packages to create its phones.
The company’s experience with this relatively new technology is beneficial for service providers seeking to offer WiFi solutions for customers, Lee added. Many service providers are considering adding VoWiFi packages to their portfolios in order to differentiate themselves in a very competitive market.
For example, in Korea, next-generation communications provider LG Dacom offers a VoWiFi package under the brand name myLG070. The provider sells UniData’s WPU-7700 WiFi phone with the service, and so far has signed up more than 600,000 subscribers, a number that’s growing by 100,000 per month.
More about UniData and its WiFi phones can be found on the Web at