Carrier WiFi

Talk Radio

6:00 PM -- There's been a recurring theme cropping up when I write about voice-over-WLAN issues recently. Some folks in the industry are saying that a lot of corporate wireless LAN networks just aren't ready for voice.

"Most [enterprise] wireless LAN networks are designed fairly casually," says Ellen Daley, principal analyst at Forrester Research Inc. , discussing why corporations thinking about using dualmode cell phones over their in-office wireless LAN networks might want to do some more reworking before they roll such devices out. (See UMA Steps Up.)

"The market is in for a rude awakening," warned Xirrus Inc. 's director of marketing, John DiGiovanni, recently, about corporations facing a potential capacity crunch as they look to implement wireless VOIP. (See Xirrus & the Big Box.)

Naturally, some of this talk could simply be FUD from vendors that really, really want users to buy more stuff.

But I can't let it go just yet, for, although a wireless LAN network is more than the sum of its parts, older access points in the network could really prove to be an issue when called on (geddit?) to handle VOIP traffic. This is because VOIP calls require a fast handoff between APs -- otherwise the call gets dropped or the connection gets wacky.

The capacity issue is probably slightly less of a problem as it seems unlikely that a huge amount of these dualmode phones will start to arrive in the enterprise before 2007, more likely 2008.

Wired VOIP went through similar growing pains as enterprises began implementing them four or five years ago. QOS and other re-engineering proved necessary to defeat delay or congestion. Still, it might be time to dust off the site surveys and start thinking about how to upgrade to handle VOWLAN.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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