SpectraLink VIEWs Voice’s Unique Needs

Saying many Wi-Fi gear makers just don’t get voice over Wi-Fi, market leader SpectraLink says it will soon begin testing WLAN equipment for compatibility with the needs of voice.

SpectraLink’s Voice Interoperability for Enterprise Wireless (VIEW) certification program “focuses on implementing industry standards to support the unique requirements of Wi-Fi telephony in enterprise environments,” according to the company. SpectraLink manufactures 802.11-based phones that are distributed throughout OEMs to enterprises in retail, healthcare, education and other fields.

“A lot of the access point guys don’t understand VoIP,” says Ben Guderian, SpectraLink’s director of marketing strategy. Guderian says SpectraLink’s new certification program is a response to questions from customers asking which APs are better at supporting voice applications over WLANs.

VIEW “will give our partners and customers a high level of confidence in deploying Wi-Fi networks to support voice applications,” said John Elms, SpectraLink president and CEO. The key aim of the certification program is ensuring Wi-Fi gear destined for the enterprise market meet criteria surrounding voice quality, security, capacity, and roaming, according to the company.

Set to begin in early 2005, with first certifications expected in the first three months of next year, the exams will happen at SpectraLink’s Boulder, Colo. headquarters.

SpectraLink’s Guderian uses phrases such as “minimum thresholds” and “giving a baseline” to describe goals of the VIEW certification plan. The company “is not telling people what to do” and intends to “continue to be agnostic” toward equipment vendors. Companies do not need to take part in VIEW in order to receive SpectraLink’s seal of approval, says Guderian.

The new certification regime builds upon the company’s earlier SpectraLink Voice Priority (SVP) program, which focused on quality of service issues. WLAN equipment vendors not taking part in SVP may more likely warm up to VIEW, according to Guderian.

While the VIEW certification program looks to implement industry standards for voice over Wi-Fi, SpectraLink is not looking to the industry’s trade organization, the Wi-Fi Alliance. “The Alliance is for interoperability, not performance,” says Guderian.

Although the Wi-Fi industry is constantly evolving, “innovation can cause problems in the Wi-Fi space,” says Guderian. The VIEW program will allow customers of voice over Wi-Fi equipment to have a high level of confidence in the gear’s compatibility with voice applications, according to Guderian.

“WLANs really aren’t configured for voice,” says Craig Mathias of the Farpoint Group. Mathias believes the certification will serve to increase customer confidence.

The VIEW certification announcement follows the announcement of a similar program SpectraLink unveiled for companies hoping to send text messages via Wi-Fi phones. The SpectraLink Certified Messaging Application was created to provide “development, testing, and promotional support to third-party providers of text messaging applications utilizing SpectraLink’s Open Application Interface (OAI),” according to the company.

ABI Research reports a growing number of Wi-Fi enabled phones are being shipped. Those increases are spurring the need for chips embedding Wi-Fi in products such as cell phones. Indeed, the trend could upset wireless networking as the top market for Wi-Fi silicon.

“Starting this year, and gaining momentum over the next two years, Wi-Fi-capable phones will ship in large and growing numbers,” says Phil Solis, ABI Research’s senior analyst. “The number of embedded Wi-Fi ICs sold will surpass that of Wi-Fi networking chipsets by 2006, and is forecast to account for more than twice as many units shipped by 2007.”

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