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VoIP Is Stumbling Block to WLAN-3G Integration: Report

Despite the momentum toward third-generation wireless local area network integration between WLAN and 3G, VoIP remains a stumbling block to how those services will work together, according to a new report from Unstrung Insider.

The study, "Converge This! WLAN-3G Mobility" notes that both the business and technical aspects of VoIP remains points of contention. Although Unstrung Insider finds that corporate customers and providers are comfortable with the business proposition of converged VoIP and WLAN services and are likely to be early adopters, things are not so clear in the consumer and residential market.

According to the study, WLAN-3G potential in the consumer and residential market will continue to be inhibited by fundamental business concerns and the challenges of hotspot VoIP over converged devices. Moreover, existing mobile networks have ample capacity to meet market demands, and Unstrung Insider is confident that there is no impending danger of a wireless capacity crunch.

Consequently, providers are not entirely eager to invest the capital and resources to develop the market, says Unstrung Insider Chief Analyst and report author Gabriel Brown. "The major issue dominating the sector is how, and whether or not, VOIP calls over wireless LAN should be integrated into the mobile network call model," he said in a statement. "Offloading calls to VOIP has its attractions, but operators are lukewarm on subsidizing handsets that could be used to bypass their networks."

Having said that, voice over WLAN handset vendors are anticipating demand, with Texas Instruments and CSR pushing development of mobile-device 802.11 chipsets and likely to emerge as market leaders. Unstrung Insider estimates an eight to ten percent attach rate for 802.11 chipsets in mobile handsets by 2008. That amounts to as many as 80 million units per year.