Mobile IoT Authors: Mauro Carniel, Liz McMillan, Dalibor Siroky, Rostyslav Demush, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: Mobile IoT

Mobile IoT: Article

Cellular Voice and Voice over Wi-Fi

Bonding like brothers or fighting like predators and prey?

Alliances, competitors, technologies, hardware, and roaming line the path to dual-mode, cellular/Wi-Fi handsets.

Another game of sit and wait has begun as major carriers ready themselves to swallow small providers whole once they have fattened themselves with successful Wi-Fi hotspots. Which end of this communications food chain are you on? Free spectrum is a good motive for providers to get into Voice over Wi-Fi. Providers will leverage the spectrum for voice as they do for data while they continue to build out their hotspots. When there is enough coverage by provider hotspots to make it worth their while, carriers will gobble up those providers. According to Todd Myers, CEO of Airpath,Wi-Fi hotspots will benefit carriers by adding spectrum where cellular spectrum is running out, and by providing needed failover and backup capabilities.

We've seen it with ISPs and DSL providers who made an easy meal for telecoms. You may even have seen the parallel on some nature documentary. The zebra eats the grass, and then the lion eats the zebra. In the same way, once the wild hotspots grow green ($!) and plentiful, and the providers have grown a little fat, the carriers will steal in and devour their prey - and the communication food chain will complete another cycle.

The Numbers Game
According to figures from ABI Research, dual-mode, cellular/Voice-over-Wi-Fi handset shipments will pass 50 million by 2009. "We figure that number three ways," says Philip Solis, an analyst at ABI. First, they take the percentage of cellular handsets that will be Wi-Fi-enabled, regardless of application. Then they take the percentage of that number that will be used for Voice-over-Wi-Fi. Next, they gather carrier input and assess carrier plans and initiatives.

ABI spoke with companies such as Motorola, Proxim, and Avia, companies that will be rolling out solutions this year. "We also looked at what percentage of handsets are purchased by enterprises to give to employees and what percentage of those might opt to eventually replace desktop phones with only one phone where employees can be reached at their desk, in the building, or outside," says Solis. By the way, Solis says the backdrop for those 50-million dual-mode handsets mentioned earlier will be about 750 million handsets of all kinds.

What's Driving the Handsets?
Savings: Get Your Enterprise Phone Tag For Free!

Zero cents per minute or calls at the cost of maintaining hardware and service always sound better than five to fifty cents per minute. When you multiply those savings by the number of enterprise employees, that extra "cha-ching" resonates clearly. When you realize how often they call each other because they aren't able to meet otherwise, the sound of that savings can ring loud as a church bell.

"People are looking at it from a cost perspective. How can they reduce wasted cellular minutes? Two people in the same building are running around, they can't find each other, and they're using their cellphones constantly. So there is a cost-reduction factor," says Solis.

Productivity: One Phone, One Number to Call, One Route to Getting Voice Calls Done
"Above that, there is the increased productivity, the ease-of-use to reach somebody, the ease of managing one voice [device] instead of two. You shave minutes off of multiple transactions; for a lot of people that adds up," says Solis.

Solutions: Servers and Go-Between Boxes
Motorola, Proxim, and Avia are rolling out a joint software solution for cellular/Voice over Wi-Fi handsets in the enterprise space by Q4, '04, according to Solis. "With Motorola and Proxim, Avia is making the server software for roaming among Wi-Fi access points. Motorola provided the server software solution for roaming between the Wi-Fi and cellular networks," says Solis, "and I think Nokia is looking at a solution like that as well but I don't think they are as far along as Motorola, Proxim, and Avia."

Centered on handsets, the handoff is likely to be implemented on the device itself, which will actually be doing the roaming - roaming that will occur between highly diverse technologies from different carriers and providers. "The handset would connect to the other network and then drop the first one once it secures the next connection. It's kind of complex. They are completely different technologies. There is certainly going to be more latency over that transfer than there would be from access point to access point," says Solis.

Various companies are working on Voice-over-Wi-Fi solutions, boxes that integrate Voice-over-Wi-Fi with existing PBX networks. "SpectraLink is one. Vocera is another," says Solis. According to Myers, Motorola is rolling out a box to switch between cellular and Wi-Fi networks for voice calls. According to Solis, it's a simple matter of linking the internal Voice-over-Wi-Fi network with the outgoing gateway.

Ramp Up
According to Myers, while carriers want to let their cellular customers roam seamlessly onto Wi-Fi, it won't be practical for a couple of years, as infrastructure is built out for full coverage and billing standards continue to be set. It's going to take a while to build out the Wi-Fi networks, just as it did with cellular networks.

"You're only talking about 300-500ft [with Wi-Fi coverage] compared to a 3-5 mile range with cell towers, and the end users have to get hold of these dual-mode phones. It takes quite a while for people to spend more money on a new device," says Myers.

As opposed to owning all venues early on, carriers are going after big market targets like airports, and letting providers build out cafes, the 802.16 networks across rural communities, and things like that, according to Myers. Then they'll buy those up later.

Wi-Fi's Protected Jurisdictions
Will there still be a place for Voice over Wi-Fi alone? "Sure. In hospitals, one of the biggest venues for Voice over Wi-Fi, the point is to not use a cellular connection due to sensitive equipment. Giving them pure Voice over Wi-Fi handsets, [or those Vocera badges] fits much better in a hospital," says Solis.

Technical Difficulties
According to Myers, carriers and providers are laying the groundwork for convergence, and are planning to settle with each other fair and square. So much for "telecom predators" and "provider prey" for that part. But technical difficulties and impracticalities may prove predators to initial profits.


  • You have to build a lot of roaming relationships to build value; that can be difficult with not enough hotspots on the map yet.
  • The technology has to know that you are about to roam into a Wi-Fi location from a regular cellular network.
  • It's got to know how to buffer the packets to get set up to go to the Wi-Fi network.
  • Before that, it has to be able to identify what network you're on, who owns that network, how much they are going to be paid, and whether there is a least-cost routing mechanism.
  • Then it has to authenticate that end user before all that packet buffering goes onto the Wi-Fi network.
  • It has to roam outside your cellular network so if you are just walking down the street you don't end up losing a sentence of the conversation during the handoff.

More Stories By David Geer

David Geer is a contributing writer to WBT, a journalist, and a computer technician. He graduated from Lake Erie College in 1993 with a BA in psychology and has worked in the computer industry and in the media since 1998.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
It is of utmost importance for the future success of WebRTC to ensure that interoperability is operational between web browsers and any WebRTC-compliant client. To be guaranteed as operational and effective, interoperability must be tested extensively by establishing WebRTC data and media connections between different web browsers running on different devices and operating systems. In his session at WebRTC Summit at @ThingsExpo, Dr. Alex Gouaillard, CEO and Founder of CoSMo Software, presented ...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
WebRTC is great technology to build your own communication tools. It will be even more exciting experience it with advanced devices, such as a 360 Camera, 360 microphone, and a depth sensor camera. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Masashi Ganeko, a manager at INFOCOM Corporation, introduced two experimental projects from his team and what they learned from them. "Shotoku Tamago" uses the robot audition software HARK to track speakers in 360 video of a remote party. "Virtual Teleport" uses a multip...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.
Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architec...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
An increasing number of companies are creating products that combine data with analytical capabilities. Running interactive queries on Big Data requires complex architectures to store and query data effectively, typically involving data streams, an choosing efficient file format/database and multiple independent systems that are tied together through custom-engineered pipelines. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Tomer Levi, a senior software engineer at Intel’s Advanced Analytics gr...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things’). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing? IoT is not about the devices, it’s about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. In his session at Internet of Things at Cloud Expo | DXWor...