Optical/IP Networks

Voice Over WLAN Ups Stakes

Wireless LAN equipment vendors should look to the nascent voice over wireless LAN (VOWLAN) market in an effort to differentiate their industry offerings, according to the latest Unstrung Insider report.

The report -- Voice Over Wireless LAN: A Heavenly Union? -- states that VOWLAN technology is becoming key to the marketing strategies of equipment vendors.

Although the technology will not make a huge impact on revenues at incumbent vendors, report author Gabriel Brown, Unstrung's research analyst, believes larger players will offer VOWLAN as a "completer" to existing product lines.

Such belief echoes recent industry support for VOWLAN technology. The results of Unstrung’s October Poll demonstrated that the hype surrounding the emergence of this technology is fully justified (see chart below and Voice Over WLAN Gets the Nod). Research house In-Stat/MDR also predicts a thriving market, up from $16.5 million in end user revenue in 2002 to $507 million in 2007.

“We believe that the network requirements for high-quality VOWLAN are sufficiently stringent that wireless LAN network equipment vendors can gain a significant competitive advantage by optimizing their products for converged voice and video networks,” claims Brown.

“The advanced technical requirements of VOWLAN mean that it will continue to play an important part of every vendor’s marketing strategy. After all, if you can’t support voice, how good is your kit?”

Brown is confident that, despite a slow start, the VOWLAN market will become significant to enterprise data networking and telephony suppliers. “Given time, the advantages of converged voice and data wireless LANs will ensure its place in the enterprise networking landscape. Decisions taken about what 802.11 network technology to install today must take into account the capability for an upgrade to voice and video services.”

Not that the likes of Airespace Inc., AirFlow Networks, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and Symbol Technologies Inc. (NYSE: SBL) face an easy task. Brown notes the complex quality of service, roaming, and security thresholds required for toll-quality voice. “This isn’t a trivial task, and it underlines the market requirement for business-grade wireless LAN equipment.”

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

The report – "Voice Over Wireless LAN: A Heavenly Union?" – costs $400. An annual subscription to Unstrung Insider is ordinarily $1,250, but is currently available at the special introductory price of $899. For more information, including subscription information and research examples, go to: Unstrung Insider.
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