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Is Wireless VoIP Ready to Take Off?

A new report from research firm In-Stat hammers home the notion that dual-mode cellular/ Wi-Fi smartphones are key to expanding the wireless VoIP market. The report's projections are bold: From the beginning of broad shipments in 2007 to the start of 2009, 66 million dual-mode devices will be in operation, In-Stat predicts. Zero to 66 million in less than two years. That's growth.

Although we've tested a number of smartphone devices that can deliver both cellular and Wi-Fi data services, we've only seen controlled demos of systems that deliver voice services across the two. Key elements are coming together, but more work must be done on both the network infrastructure and the devices. And here's the kicker: Will wireless carriers--the real customers of smartphone manufacturers--believe such mass rollouts are in their best interests? The answer will depend on whether the devices can enable new, multimedia applications that drive more traffic to their networks.