WiFi Phone Heats Up

Voice-over-WiFi is one of the hottest markets in telecommunications, predicted to more than double this year, according to a report released today by Infonetics Research Inc.

The report says that worldwide revenues from WiFi phone service (also known as "voice over wireless LAN," or VOWLAN) hit $102.5 million last year -- up 76 percent from 2005 -- and will reach more than $205 million in 2006.

By 2009, as enterprises continue to deploy voice over wireless LANs, the market for WiFi voice services will reach almost $1.9 billion -- an 18-fold increase in four years. Consumers will help fuel that growth as well, as WiFi voice services are bundled with increasingly popular broadband connection packages.

"Voice makes wireless LANs more desirable and mobility makes VOIP more valuable," explains Infonetics wireless broadband analyst Richard Webb in a statement. "It's natural that they are converging into a powerful enterprise mobile voice solution."

Among the report's other conclusions:

  • Sales of WiFi phone units, which grew 112 percent between 2004 and 2005, will increase by 158 percent in 2006

  • Dualmode VOIP handsets, which accounted for just one third of WiFi phone revenue in 2005, will make up three quarters of total revenue by 2009

  • Standardized in late 2005, 802.11e (an enhancement to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) wireless LAN specifications that includes quality-of-service requirements) will generate a new round of product releases and renewed promotion of real-time applications such as voice and video over wireless LANs.
— Richard Martin, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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