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Study: Voice Over WiFi Ready To Emerge

The conditions are right for the widespread emergence of consumer voice over Wi-Fi (VoWi-Fi) products, reports ABI Research in a new study.

In "Voice over Wi-Fi," ABI senior analyst, wireless connectivity Phil Solis notes that industry-wide initiatives have intersected with a push from equipment and IC vendors to deliver consumer-friendly VoWi-Fi products. Most significant are the creation of a Wi-Fi/Cellular working group by the Wi-Fi Alliance and the approval by the Unlicensed Mobile Access Consortium for seamless handoffs between cellular networks and Wi-Fi networks.

According to Solis, chip vendors like Agere and Texas Instruments have been focusing their efforts on developing Wi-Fi chips to be embedded in mobile phones. Texas Instruments, moreover, has produced a reference design for VoIP and Wi-Fi chips to simplify handset development. "Embedded Wi-Fi ICs are a growth market, with those going into cellular handsets forming a big part," Solis said in a statement.

Indeed, handset vendors are lining up to offer VoIP-enabled cellular handsets to the consumer market. SBC will be offering such a phone to Cingular subscribers as early as 2006, with access to SBC's Wi-Fi hotspots, as well as others through an agreement with Wayport.