There has been a tremendous amount of early activity in the dual mode VoFi/cellular space, although I would still describe it as an early, emerging market. The foundation for this service is simple, although it has confounded the cellular industry for decades... how to produce a cost-effective microcell technology that can carry cellular services in large buildings, where there are often quality of service issues.
Under this emerging model, a wireless LAN solution designed to handle the stringent requirements of voice, as well as data services can be the perfect answer for carrying indoor voice traffic. We have seen a sharp increase in new, competitively priced dual-mode handsets based on Session Initiation Protocol (SIP). In Japan, these phones are already being used by enterprise customers looking to drive their employees to one-number access. One-number access is a great convenience and productivity boost for employees, as well as a compelling expense reduction for a CIO.
The big question is when (and which) carriers will adopt handover technology that essentially passes off a cellular call initiated over a wireless LAN network to the public cellular network, and vice versa. There are several industry initiatives underway that are looking to address this key carrier edge technology. You can expect to see more developments on this front, particularly in the handoff area, in the second half of 2005 and 2006.
This was first published in August 2005