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Net Waves: Voice Over Wi-Fi: Are You Prepared?

I strongly believe, however, that voice over Wi-Fi will become the
killer wireless LAN application that we've been waiting for. My
consulting firm, Wireless-Nets, has seen a widespread trend toward
creating voice over Wi-Fi products, and many companies that are
deploying wireless LANs also have an eye on voice.

Several Wi-Fi-enabled telephones are on the market now, including
Spectralink's NetLink e340 and Cisco's Wireless IP Phone 7920.
Traditional wireless LAN infrastructure players Cisco and Proxim have
worthy hardware for voice solutions, and startups such as Meru Networks
have well-designed access points that enhance voice over Wi-Fi
connectivity. Non-traditional service providers like Vonage are even
offering voice over Wi-Fi service plans for nationwide calling that are
much less expensive than cell phones.

The Federal Communications Commission has spoken, ruling last month that
VoIP (voice over IP) services are interstate in nature and not subject
to traditional state public utility regulation. For example, Vonage is
avoiding the Minnesota Public Utility Commission's efforts to treat its
service as traditional phone company service. While the FCC will further
decide what regulations apply to Internet telephony over the next year,
it seems at this point that regulation will stay out of the way.

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Some of my clients are currently deploying voice over Wi-Fi solutions,
and the majority of the remaining ones are planning to do so in the
future. The benefits of voice over Wi-Fi in enterprises yield
substantial returns on investment because mobile telephone usage is
enabled within facilities and because combining telephone and data
networks lowers costs. The returns are just too substantial to resist.

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