VoIP Over WiFi for Businesses: Sending Voice Over the Wireless LAN
The convergence of data and voice networks in the business environment takes on a new twist with the emergence of wireless networking. The freedom of mobility offered to users in a Wireless LAN has proven to provide a noticeable boost in productivity, efficiency, and. employee spirits. No longer is the work force Cara Membobol Wifi tied to their desk when face to face. Workers can access company files and receive important communications from anywhere on the company campus that is in range of a wireless access point.
With voice communications thrown into the mix, mobile users can stay in touch while roaming the property inside or out, and even on the road. The acceptance of the fixed to mobile convergence concept by the telecommunications industry only promises to fuel the fire for the adoption of VoIP over Wireless.
The Challenges of Implementing VoIP over Wireless Networks
As with any emerging technology, there are challenges to overcome. The development of the converged network, i. e. data and voice for a passing fancy IP based LAN, while yet to be an established usual, is exhibiting to be beneficial for businesses from both an expense and productivity perspective. Adding the outlook of VoIP over a wireless network brings up a whole new set of issues.
VoIP is a time sensitive technology. Calls must be set up and authenticated, and voice packets must arrive at their destination without interruption and on time. This requires a near continuous network stream, uninterrupted by less sensitive data transmissions. The rendering of Quality of Service techniques on wired LANs guaranteeing that these voice packets receive priority, and call quality issues such as latency, jitter, and packet loss have been completely addressed.
Enter the standards based wireless network, a technology in an earlier stage of development, and more challenges occur. While today’s wired network provides plenty of bandwidth for both voice and data to coexist, WLANs provide less bandwidth, and Quality of Service issues must be revisited. Security measures such as authentication and encryption must be implemented and can add to the problem by increasing the size of the voice packet. Additionally, users on the move will traverse wireless access points where handoffs must be quick and smooth.
The IEEE 802 standards overseeing wireless technology are improving rapidly and promise to deal with a broad selection range of Wireless issues. Increasing the bandwidth available, prioritizing voice packets for QoS, authentication and encryption protocols for security, and enhanced roaming techniques are all being addressed.
Also in development is the wireless technology commonly known as WiMax, providing for the rendering of high bandwidth wireless communications covering mileage all the way to 30 miles. The progression of WiMax could prove of great consequence to developing countries, as well as Metropolitan LANs.
Security in a VoIP/WiFi Network
Companies wishing to implement wVoIP must take security issues into consideration from the start. Like any IP network, the dangers of cyber criminals, denial of service, highjacking and spam, all lurk in the shadows.
Because a wireless network uses radio frequencies as its transmission media, the security normally provided by a firewall in a wired network is not sufficient, mainly because of the physics. Whereas to break into a wired LAN requires cyber criminals to either physically be inside the network as well as to compromise in through the Internet, in a WLAN they can grab network transmissions from the air while parked across the street. The security conditions that network leaders must consider in a VoWLAN are the privacy of conversations, and the protection of the network infrastructure.
For Wireless networks, security has had a unreliable start with the rendering of WEP as its security mechanism. WEP offers up authentication and encryption between the user and the access point, and was found to be easily hacked. The 802. 11i standard, implemented as WPA2 (Wireless Protected Access), offers up more robust security by requiring two way authentication between the user and the network, and uses AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) as its encryption engine.
As network leaders plan the rollout of a wireless VoIP network, the greatest security threat they face is improper rendering. Building security into the design of the initial deployment can, and may affect the network topology, as well as material costs. Failure to do so could lead to further expenses in loss of services and network redesigns in the event of compromise.
Wireless, VoIP, and the Cellular Networks
Manufacturers of cellular devices are incorporating Wireless radios into their devices at an rising rate. New versions of mobile operating systems are coming out complete with a built-in VoIP collection, inviting carriers and manufacturers to add VoIP functionality to their devices. Dual and Quad band cell phones can select from the most potent network available, cellular or Wireless, and place a call accordingly.
As cell phones are more like mobile offices, the benefits of a mobile work force become apparent. In the case of the road knight, the ability to communicate via email, txt messaging, video or voice, allows them to stay on the road longer without losing touch. In the age of instant information, mobile office applications allow files to be delivered electronically, edited, and published, increasing the productivity of the traveler to the point where almost anything that you can try at the office can be done on the road.
A cell phone that can switch between cellular and Wireless networks can significantly reduce telecommunications costs at the corporate office. With Wireless hotspots showing up at hotels, stores, banks, and corporate LANs across the globe, mobile workers can stay in touch with office and family both on and off the job. With the addition of a VoIP service provider, cheaper VoIP calls can be made from any Wireless network at the push of a button.
Imagine, if you will, another where one phone, with one phone number, can seamlessly traverse cellular networks, Wireless networks, cable and PSTN landlines. Where roaming and switching between disparate networks occur without interruption or loss of call quality. Fixed Mobile Convergence is the buzzword of the decade, and the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) construction is the standard that promises to get us there.
Encourage IMS is to provide all the services and applications that the Internet provides, both current, and as of yet unimagined. IP based services such as VoIP, Push to talk cellular (POC), videoconferencing, txt messaging, community services, presence information and file sharing, are just some of techniques. Designed to work with any fixed, mobile or wireless packet switched network, back compatibility for the legacy routine switched phone system is provided making use of gateways.
Although still in its infancy, IMS is already being implemented by AT&T as the platform in it’s freshly acquired Cingular cellular network. Interest in investing in a new infrastructure by mobile and fixed operators has been top to bottom, as they weigh the costs and benefits of the new technology.
As the technology of VoIP over Wireless networks continues to develop, businesses of all sizes can gather the benefits of increased mobility, productivity, and significant saving money. Standards committees are constantly working on ways to increase security and quality of service, and as fixed mobile convergence gains acceptance in the telecommunications industry, more choices in the services offered and the IP applications available to businesses are sure to follow. What will also be interesting to watch, is how these very bandwidth intensive applications will be priced by the carrier networks, and how it will affect the neutrality of the Internet.