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Motorola Banks on Vo-Fi

Motorola's recent equity stake in Vocera Communications is an indication of the company's belief that voice over Wi-Fi is set to soar.

The easiest way to track a trend is to follow the money. According to Motorola--already a major maker of cellular handsets--look for voice over Wi-Fi to soar.

In recent weeks, Motorola announced it's taking an equity stake in Vocera Communications, maker of lightweight wireless handsets for mobile workers--especially those in health care, manufacturing, hospitality and retail. The Vocera Communication System employs a wearable badge that personnel can use to contact co-workers. The technology blends Wi-Fi, VoIP and speech-recognition technology to simplify and expedite collaboration among highly mobile workers within a campus environment.

In our recent evaluation of Vo-Fi handsets, Vocera stood out with its innovative speech-recognition command system that lets employees remain in communication without work interruptions (see Analysis: Voice Over Wireless LAN ). We expect the Vocera badge to move to an 802.11g radio (allowing more calls per AP) and to integrate standards-based QoS in the form of WMM for proper prioritization of voice-over-data traffic.

This isn't Motorola's first Vo-Fi investment: It also owns stakes in Wi-Fi infrastructure vendors Trapeze Networks and Extricom, the latter of which has an architecture originally designed for Vo-Fi. --Jameson Blandford, jblandford@nwc.com

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