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Wi-Fi VoIP handset market takes off

Worldwide Wi-Fi VoIP handset revenue totalled $45m (£24m) in 2004, with 113,000 units sold, according to a report by Infonetics Research.

The report projected revenue and units to show strong growth up to 2009 as enterprises slowly but steadily deployed voice over wireless Lans.

Worldwide dual-mode Wi-Fi/mobile handset revenue hit $6.6m last year, and units totalled more than 8,000. Since handset units only became commercially available in the fourth quarter of 2004, this represents the birth of the market.

Revenue and units are projected to mushroom by 2009 as enterprises take advantage of the opportunity to offer employees flexible mobile access over different forms of wireless networks.

“Wi-Fi capability will eventually become a common feature in cell phones, just as it is becoming standard in laptops today, giving mobile operators a big opportunity with Wi-Fi voice,” said Richard Webb, directing analyst for Infonetics and author of the report.

“But voice over wireless internet devices have the potential to be a hugely disruptive technology too. One big factor is the low cost of calling, especially long distance, overseas and during peak hours.

“The traditional model of time and distance-based pricing for voice calls will be eroded by VoIP, and as VoIP goes wireless this will present a challenge not only to fixed-line operators but to mobile operators as well.”


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