October 25, 2005, 3:20 PM — This week's highlighted research:
Infonetics Research. "User plans for wireless LANs: North America 2005."
Like most people, I have a landline phone at home, and a cell phone I carry with me. But I do tend to be always a step or two behind the technology curve. I don't have a camera in my cell phone, I don't have VoIP at home, and I haven't gotten around to putting in home voicemail yet. And it looks like I may be about to be even further behind, as the telecom industry considers rolling out a new generation of smart phones that can work as both a fixed line phone at home, and a cell phone on the road.
VLAN, or sending voice traffic over fast Ethernet wired LANs, is an excellent idea and already saves companies a lot of money. But voice over wireless LAN (VoWLAN) technology may be the next step. Although the WLAN has a lot less bandwidth than a 100Mbps Fast Ethernet wired network, there is a case to be made for it. Infonetics Research notes the growing presence of WLANs in the enterprise, predicting that WLAN deployments will increase threefold over the next two years, in part, driven by the availability of wireless VoIP handsets and voice-enabling wireless technology. Telecom pricing structures based on time and distance are being challenged by VoIP providers (giving incumbent telcos a run for their money), and wireless VoIP will further disrupt the industry as it presents more innovation and competitive opportunities.
In-Stat's research shows a tremendous interest in VoWLAN, and phones that combine cellular and VoIP. According to their research, 84.6 percent of respondents in their survey were interested in using a VoWLAN/cellular telephone. The study notes that cellular carriers are particularly excited about the prospect, since it would give them further opportunity to compete directly with wireline providers. The survey indicated that consumers like the idea of being able to make unlimited calls while at home, and also look forward to the ability to carry only a single phone between work, home, and elsewhere. The results indicate that there may be some legitimacy in the idea of cellular carriers displacing wireline carriers.
Insight Research just comes out and says it: fixed phones are about to be replaced by smart landline/cellular hybrid phones. According to Insight, the new generation of phones will leverage WiFi hotspots, VoIP, and VoWLAN technology. The report predicts four scenarios: