A report by Infonetics Research backs the well-known potential of the VoIP over Wi-Fi market.
The Infonetics report, Wi-Fi Phones Annual Worldwide Market Size and Forecast, predicted that revenue and units shipments from Wi-Fi VoIP would show strong growth through 2009 as enterprises slowly but steadily continued to deploy voice over wireless Lans.
As an indicator of Wi-Fi VoIP market strength, Infonetics said that by the end of 2004, worldwide VoIP handset revenue from 113,000 unit shipments totalled $45m (£24m). And worldwide dual-mode Wi-Fi/mobile handset revenue hit $6.6m from more than 8,000 unit sales.
Infonetics said this was a firm indication of the strength of the market at its birth given that handsets were effectively only commercially available in the last quarter of 2004.
The research company said that Wi-Fi VoIP handsets had great potential in the enterprise market as well as the consumer space, particularly in logistics and healthcare verticals, where voice over wireless Lan is already gaining momentum.
“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,” he added. “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 mobile operators as well.”
Infonetics said that despite the general optimism, a number of technical issues remained to be resolved before wireless internet calling became viable commercially. The issues include quality of service, roaming across different wireless platforms, and the relatively short range of Wi-Fi.