September 12, 2005, 1:44 PM — Enterprise voice company Avaya, has chosen Meru Networks for voice over Wi-Fi, hoping Meru's multi-channel blanket will give it an edge over its arch rival, Cisco.
Avaya will resell the full Meru Networks range, using it to fill a gap left by its previous agreement involving former Wi-Fi leader Proxim and Motorola, and move on to a new generation of Wi-Fi that Proxim was unable to provide.
"When Cisco acquired Airespace, it hastened the move from standalone Access points to a centralized architecture," said Ben Gibson vice president of marketing at Meru. "We've seen a rush of people wanting to upgrade from hotspot-type deployment, to more pervasive deployments."
Unfortunately, Proxim never produced a wireless switch that would help it make that transition, and was recently declared bankrupt and snapped up by Terabeam.
Meru claims its architecture is actually a generation beyond that of Airespace and its rivals, because all the access points use the same channels, creating blanket coverage and centralizing control even further.
The company was already collaborating informally with Avaya, and last week saw its products adopted by Juniper (itself another Avaya partner) for Wi-Fi voice.
"We wanted to partner with the leader in the telephony space," said Gibson, claiming that Avaya is pretty much equal with Cisco -- unusually for any part of the network market.
Meru's emphasis on wireless voice means its products are often seen as specialized in that area, but Gibson points out that around half Meru's customers use the products for data networking only: "We have unique advantages for voice, but we are competitive for combined networks, or even just data," he said. "We've done some good work within our system to help manage contention to support a higher density of users."
He expects enterprise voice to be the driver for a big expansion, though, enabled by the availability of cheaper, more functional dual-mode phones, which are predicted to grow fast by Infonetics Research.
"The Price point has got to the point where it becomes a viable market, for the general market, not just verticals like hospitals," said Gibson -- although the user referenced in the company's press release is St John's Hospital, in Springfield Illinois.