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Voice Over Wi-Fi Coming Soon?

Voice over Wi-Fi Gets a Push, According to ABI Research

OYSTER BAY, N.Y., June 20, 2005 — Voice over Wi-Fi got a boost recently as BellSouth announced a trial of a converged system in the enterprise environment of Grey Worldwide’s Atlanta, Georgia office in the U.S.

Not long afterwards, British Telecom launched their “Bluephone” service which, while it uses Bluetooth rather than 802.11 for its local connection, is seen by ABI Research senior analyst Philip Solis as BT’s interim step towards VoWi-Fi. The British communications giant has recently announced its decision to become an all-IP operator, and, says Solis, “the Bluephone is their precursor to a fully Voice over Wi-Fi solution which would have a much better range than the Bluetooth radio installed in most mobile handsets.”

Back in the USA, SBC has stated that they will start to roll out VoWi-Fi to consumers by the end of 2006, so we should see North American market penetration starting early in 2007. Many dual-mode (cellular and VoWi-Fi) handsets exist already, Solis adds, and more are set to come out within the next year.

So is VoWi-Fi “the wave of the future”? Solis believes it is. “Cellular coverage is far from ideal indoors,” he points out. “Most people would greatly prefer to have one phone that works just as well in the depths of a large building as it does outdoors. Moreover, it’s a cheaper way for carriers to transmit calls, and it provides natural synergies and extra revenue opportunities where there are linkages joining wireless and wireline companies such as SBC and Cingular. So it’s a tool for bundling that also provides cheaper services to consumers.”

ABI Research’s study “Voice over Wi-Fi: Market Dynamics for Enterprise and Consumer VoWi-Fi, and Dual-mode Cellular/VoWi-Fi Handsets” examines the whole industry, from chipset providers to service providers. It discusses the technologies involved, the consortia driving these handsets, and the competitive business environment. It also provides a number of market forecasts extending to 2010.

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Founded in 1990 and headquartered in New York, ABI Research maintains global operations supporting annual research programs, intelligence services and market reports in automotive, wireless, semiconductors, broadband, and energy. For information visit http://www.abiresearch.com, or call +1.516.624.2500.

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