Tom Keating made some great VoIP predictions in his blog recently and one of them came to mind this AM when I happened upon a new product, the mNode300 from Telabria, a ruggedized WiFi access point with a separate radio for backhauling network traffic. This device is aimed at students and other public sector locations. Tom's prediction about this topic is below:
7) Colleges ramp up on VoIP
When I was in college 11 years ago they just added Ethernet to the dorm rooms. Too bad VoIP didn't exist back then as I often had $100 phone bills. But that's nothing. Many students had $200-$500 phone bills due to the ridiculous prices charged by colleges. Most colleges built their own phone system acting as their own little phone companies so they could charge students a "premium" and rake in the profits. Well, the colleges are really starting to hurt with cell phone market penetration as well as students using Skype and other VoIP solutions. Many colleges spent millions on their legacy phone systems and haven't recouped that investment. Well, if you can't beat em' join em'! Many colleges have already started deploying VoIP, often giving the students a Cisco IP phone or other IP phone to use. You can expect more of this in 2005. Fortunately, the easier administration (as compared to traditional PBX/phone systems) as well as the ability to partner with less expensive VoIP termination providers such as Level3 could make the colleges more competitive and with good margins.
Obviously when using WiFi you can jump to VoIP immediately without the need for wires. We often joke around the office that "one wire to the desktop," was the VoIP catch-phrase a few years back and now it is obviously no wires to the desktop. Well if you think about it, there is no desktop required anymore either. So I guess this phrase just doesn't work at all anymore. But getting back to Tom's prediction... The use of WiFi will certainly speed the adoption of VoIP in universities making this prediction very likely to happen. Lets see how many colleges jump on the WiFi bandwagon.
If we give students the ability to access the Internet from anywhere, we wills see an even larger explosion in 3 things. Downloaded music, videos and VoIP usage. Well at least the last one is legal. As these students enter the workplace, VoIP will be a necessity for them, not a new technology. The more WiFi access students can get their hands on, the better it is for the VoIP industry.