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VoIP On The Go: New Wireless Solutions

VoIP, or voice over IP, has gotten a lot of buzz recently, and rightly so. Bypassing POTS (plain old telephone service) and its pricey rates, consumer VoIP leaders Skype and Vonage have snagged a relatively small but significant share of the market, one that continues to grow as new products and services come to market.

Prompted by tempting savings on long-distance rates, home and small-office users have made the jump to VoIP via their ISP's broadband cable or DSL lines. Some larger corporate sites have taken advantage of the rate savings as well, and the features of VoIP phones make them flexible in an office environment that handles a lot of calls.

With VoIP still gathering steam, a new flavor of VoIP may accelerate the move to Internet-based telephone service. VoIP over wireless network, or VoWLAN, could bring more compelling reasons for users to drop their current telephony service and switch to a true roaming VoIP solution. VoWLAN is simply a VoIP phone that can connect to the Internet via a corporate wireless network, a home or small office wireless network, or a public or private wireless hotspot.

For a corporate or small office environment, where wireless access to the network is secure and constant, VoWLAN is an ideal solution for employees who aren't tied to a desk, but need to stay in touch -- such as IT or sales personnel.

For roaming beyond the immediate area of your office or home, the widespread deployment of the 802.11b and g wireless standards (also known as Wi-Fi) means that VoWLAN users have plenty of freely available coverage in densely populated areas. Even in urban areas coverage can be spotty, though, so they're not a replacement for a cell phone yet. Nevertheless, carrying a VoWLAN phone can make phone calls cheap in many places, from the local café to a client's office.

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