Voice Is A Bump On Road To Wireless

Until the voice question is answered, organizations should be cautious.

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Voice services are a significant sticking point for companies considering an all-wireless office. Voice over Wi-Fi is still in its infancy. Fixed-mobile convergence using a dual-mode handset is another approach, but that technology and market are no more mature than Vo-Fi. Standardizing on cellular voice services is also a possibility, but that requires good in-building coverage, something rarely found in North America without investing in special gear, such as femtocells.

Until the voice question is definitively answered, organizations have good reason to be cautious.

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Even if Vo-Fi isn't yet on your radar, your WLAN needs to be designed to support quality of service and multiple applications (data, voice, and video). While wired networks need the same type of planning, the added latency of the air and that fact that Wi-Fi is a shared medium require specific attention. And QoS won't help you if the radio in the employee's Vo-Fi phone can't connect. Building the wireless network to saturate all locations, including hallways, elevators, stairwells, and utility closets, is critical to providing complete in-building coverage. For that reason, Vocera, well known for its Star Trek-like voice badges, uses AirMagnet's VoFi Analyzer in all its installations. Depending on your building's location and setup, outdoor coverage may be required as well. If you already perform post-installation surveys, that's a good start, but remember that the radios in Vo-Fi phones are weaker than the clients built into most laptops.

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