While Voice over Wi-Fi (VoWi-Fi) has made some inroads in consumer markets, several inhibiting factors are temporarily restraining its adoption by business, according to a new study from ABI Research.
“The future is pretty bright for VoWi-Fi, but it will be a little while before it becomes a horizontal application that’s attractive to mainstream enterprises,” says ABI Research vice president and research director Stan Schatt. “We’re seeing historic early Wi-Fi adopters with special needs that are addressed by VoWi-Fi once again becoming early adopters of this technology, in key verticals such as healthcare, retail, manufacturing and hospitality. Large enterprise clients, however, have tended to be more conservative.”
There are several hurdles to overcome.
One is the complexity of this embryonic technology, which in almost all cases requires extensive partnering between manufacturers and vendors of individual system elements, both at the handset and network levels. “Enterprise VoWi-Fi is a complicated market because there are so many disparate pieces of technology that have to work together,” says Schatt. “That requires a lot of partnering, and some vendors are better at partnering than others. Cisco Systems, Trapeze Networks, Xirrus Networks, DiVitas Networks and the SpectraLink division of Polycom have all found partnering models appropriate to their niches and needs.”
Other problems include the lack of industry-wide standards. The Wi-Fi Alliance is scheduled to start enterprise VoWi-Fi equipment interoperability testing only in Spring 2008. “With key standards still not in place,” notes Schatt, “vendors have jumped in with proprietary solutions. So for now you’re still forced to go with a one-vendor solution. The start of certification testing on enterprise-grade Wi-Fi handsets will go a long way towards opening this market up.”
ABI Research’s new study, The Voice Over Wi-Fi Ecosystem, assesses the state of the technology and examines all the disparate pieces that must be in place for a vendor to offer a complete VoWi-Fi solution. It assesses how well-developed the ecosystems of the various vendors are, evaluating them on more than a dozen critical parameters.
It is supplemented by the firm’s Voice Over Wi-Fi Ecosystems Vendor Matrix, which charts vendors’ performance on the twin axes of “Innovation” and “Implementation.”
Both products form part of two ABI Research Services, Fixed-Mobile Convergence and Wi-Fi, while the Vendor Matrix is also a component of Mobile Broadband and Mobile Devices.
ABI Research is a leading market research firm focused on the impact of emerging technologies on global consumer and business markets. Utilizing a unique blend of market intelligence, primary research, and expert assessment from its worldwide team of industry analysts, ABI Research assists hundreds of clients each year with their strategic growth initiatives. For information, call +1.516.624.2500.