Voice over WiFi

By Michael Lock — October 02, 2008

In order to achieve superior customer responsiveness and foster substantial improvements in productivity, organizations are increasingly looking for mobile solutions for their workforces.  Beyond the cost, time, and human capital required to equip the workforce with a robust mobility solution, many organizations are challenged by weak or spotty cellular coverage.

Now, with advancements to the 802.11 standard enabling mechanisms such as quality of service (QoS) and bandwidth management, enterprises are leveraging their investment in wireless local area network (WLAN) infrastructure for perhaps the most unforgiving of applications: Voice.

In June and July 2008, Aberdeen Group surveyed more than 200 end-user organizations about the challenges of implementing a Voice over WiFi (VoFi) solution.  Nearly one in four respondents (38%) say the need to enhance workforce productivity is a top pressure forcing investment.  Another important driver is the need to reduce cellular service costs. Download the full report.

From a tactical level, reliable VoFi deployment necessitates a successful marriage of people, process, and technology.  Organizations with Best-in-Class performance rely on a stable foundation of organizational capability in order to achieve this heightened level of execution (Figure 1).

Reliable WLAN Coverage Is Key

From a technical perspective, VoFi is equally demanding. Reliable voice services won't tolerate poor signal quality or dropped calls.  Best-in-Class companies recognize the importance of WLAN coverage, seamless handover between access points, and voice call quality. 

At a strategic level, top-performing companies are making strides to improve these various aspects.  Aberdeen's research shows that 38% of Best-in-Class organizations are making efforts to increase the coverage of their WLAN as a strategic action for VoFi. 

As VoFi solutions permeate a company, call quality becomes an even greater challenge.  Best-in-Class companies are using numerous technology enablers to address this challenge (Figure 2).

Best-in-Class companies are using VoFi in more ways, across the board, than all other organizations, including single-mode WiFi handsets, softphones, and voice over Instant Messaging.  Despite the rumblings that dual-mode device technology is immature and unstable, the data show that 57% of Best-in-Class companies are using these devices now. This is nearly twice the percentage of all other companies, implying that there is a need for this technology to mature and provide the type of flexibility it promises.

Improved Customer Responsiveness

By building a sound portfolio of organizational capability encompassing people, process, and technology, organizations can improve their execution on VoFi deployment and achieve enhanced workforce mobility, in turn promoting better customer responsiveness.  //

Michael Lock is Research Associate, Technology Markets with Aberdeen Group.


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