Voice-Over-WLAN Service Launched

Irish fixed-line operator Talktelecom Ltd. has launched a commercial voice-over-wireless-LAN (VOWLAN) service, breathing further life into the concept of fixed-mobile convergence in Europe.

The service is a coup for Irish startup Cicero Networks Ltd. It marks the first commercial deployment of Cicero's equipment, and is touted as the first launch of a VOWLAN service by a European wireline carrier (see Talktelecom Deploys Cicero).

“We reached an agreement with Cicero last summer and now have all the technology in and working,” Jonathan Mills, Talktelecom CEO, tells Unstrung.

With a total customer base of “between 5 and 6,000 users,” Mills states that so far Talktelecom has signed up “about 30 companies and 100 overall corporate users” for the VOWLAN service.

“The barriers to market at this point are simply the availability of devices. It’s a little bit of a waiting game until someone comes along with a mass market device. We expected this though. I believe that commercial applications will take off early next year… It doesn’t take a lot of thinking to realise that if you can make mobile calls at cheap landline rates then you are going to save money. We are pretty comfortable that once the devices are available these things will sell fast.”

Founded in 2002 and with a headcount of just 20, today’s announcement by Cicero helps validate its attempts to target the fixed-line operator market with a voice offering that allows users to bypass cellular networks (see Is There a Convergence Crunch? and The Third Way of Convergence).

“We have upgraded Talktelecom to the new version of our kit, and we are also in trials with other operators across Europe,” says VP of marketing, Elaine Treacy (see Cicero Unveils VOWLAN Kit).

Privately funded with non-disclosed seed investment from a number of Irish companies, Treacy adds that the startup is “in the process of raising further investment.”

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

dljvjbsl 12/5/2012 | 3:20:01 AM
re: Voice-Over-WLAN Service Launched
If a VoWLAN service like this is avilable then why would anyone want to pay 3G prices?
materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 3:19:59 AM
re: Voice-Over-WLAN Service Launched QoS (ha ha ha). A higher degree of mobility, perhaps. Maybe privacy. Fringe benefits for sure given the price.
sgan201 12/5/2012 | 3:19:57 AM
re: Voice-Over-WLAN Service Launched Hi,

<< If VoWLAN service is available??>>

You had answerred your own question!! To provide any level of coverage like what 3G can do, you will need at least 100 to 1,000 times more AP than 3G basestations..

donniall 12/5/2012 | 3:19:57 AM
re: Voice-Over-WLAN Service Launched The technology criticisms aired thus far appear to me very similar to the early criticisms of VoIP deployments in general? I agree that coverage is definitely an initial barrier for widespread VOWLAN deployments - but in densely populated urban areas VOWLAN could really undermine 3G's business proposition .... Being in Europe I am not familiar with the detail but wasn't there a recent high profile case in Philadelphia where one of the major incumbents sought legislation against this very development? So they clearly see the threat.

optoslob 12/5/2012 | 3:19:57 AM
re: Voice-Over-WLAN Service Launched When I last looked at VoWLAN (2 or 3 years ago)it did not make much sense from a deployed cost perspective unless the wlan system was configured as a mesh network. Now the problem with VOWLAN mesh is that the multihop nature of the network introduces lots of packet jitter and makes voice the least suitable application to run on this network. Has anyone else looked at this problem recently? And does anyone know the topology of this network?
sgan201 12/5/2012 | 3:19:56 AM
re: Voice-Over-WLAN Service Launched Hi,

There is a cheap way to do AP.. It is called FREE aka soft AP. You can turn every single WLAN card into an AP with the right software. Ditto with MESH capability..

I do not think 3G is the answer. But, I do not think doing VoWLAN is the right answer either..

In term of voice, in developed world, GSM/CDMA had been deployed. The new voice platform have to compete with the existing solution. Can VoWLAN do a better job in this kind of situation?? I do not think so.. In fact, if you want to talk about cheap way to deliver voice, nothing beat PHS at this moment..

sunfanz 12/5/2012 | 3:19:56 AM
re: Voice-Over-WLAN Service Launched In the arena of VoWLAN, number of AP for coverage has always been rasied as a concern vs 3G.

However, what if one could create very dumb and cheap AP that could be deployed everywhere (cost competitively vs 3G BTS). Would that make the business case compelling?

Aruba seems to be an advocate of this approach. They coined the idea of wireless GRID (like electricity GRID) with loads of dumb and cheap AP backhauling central switch for access control. This model seems to fit telco.

The reduce cost of an AP seems far more easy than a 3G BTS.

my 2 cents, any comments?
materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 3:19:55 AM
re: Voice-Over-WLAN Service Launched "The new paradigm never mimics the old", a quote from me. Do not look for WiFi to exactly replace 3G voice in a barbarians at the gate, scortched earth, policy. Rather, it comes in from the side and kills the business model.

Now, how much data traffic must a really crummy WiFi network absorb in order to ruin the 3G business model? Once the business model is trashed, its all over but the crying. You smart engineers will figure out how to put acceptable voice over the thing. It will be by definition a new way of doing things.
optoslob 12/5/2012 | 3:19:51 AM
re: Voice-Over-WLAN Service Launched The main problem is to reduce the deployed cost of the system and have a system that is reliable in all weather. Mesh or grid WLAN systems only get high marks if you have a good way to deploy them at very regular intervals (think every second or third house in the grid) you also need to have a worst case of 3 hops if the intended app is voice. Even if you do this the beacon interval needs to be very short or else you get really bad jitter (varying from 10msec to 60msec). Echo cancellation is the big problem when you have this much jitter in a VOIP system. A few years back I looked at a prototype mesh wlan system where the back haul was FSO, worked great BUT FSO is not cheap.

It is going to be fun to see how the RBOC's react to this threat

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