WiFi Telephony

Years ago I saw the future of VoIP as being wireless and WiFi in particular was curious to me. To my amazement URLs like VoWiFi.com and WiFiTelephony.com were available and I registered them. At the time, VoIP was so out of favor it was ridiculous. I looked up the exact date, it was May 2, 2002 to be exact. At this time a number of other magazines covering VoIP went out of business and closed down completely. TMC’s Internet Telephony Magazine was the only pub left covering the VoIP market and we were first by the way.

All the communications show owners other than TMC had bailed on the market as well selling their assets to Key3Media. This included VoiceCon/BCR and VON. This company subsequently went though bankruptcy and is now MediaLive. TMC’s Internet Telephony Conference & Expo remains the only show in our space that was never sold off.

It was a lonely place covering the VoIP space and many had their doubts that anyone would ever use IP telephony for anything. At least that is what I kept hearing from industry “experts.” I knew they were all wrong.

Now everyone has a VoIP magazine or seems to be focusing heavily on it. The most exciting thing I see is when general interest pubs and information technology magazines in particular spend up to 40% of their editorial space covering VoIP. I just can’t believe it.

The premise for this piece is that VoIP is going wireless and getting back to that idea, Instat, today sent a release out that says that Dual-mode cellular/WiFi handsets will be the key driver to mass consumer adoption of VoIP. By 2009, In-Stat forecasts that over 66 million cellular/WiFi handsets will be in operation.

“Wireless high-speed broadband access, unified messaging, video, and dual-network cellular/WiFi services are making the mobile triple play a consumer market reality,” says Keith Nissen, In-Stat analyst. “The key to successfully capturing the market for these next-generation personalized services is control of the end-point device.”

Here are some bullets from the release.

* Worldwide, consumer VoIP subscribers using wireless IP phones will grow from 2% currently to 73% in 2009.

* Based on competition from mobile carriers without wireline operations, Europe will be the largest initial market for dual-mode smartphones.

* While mass production of dual-mode sets is not scheduled until 2007, an In-Stat market survey found that over 80% of businesses have an interest in the technology.

Interesting a few months back I moderated a VoIP security panel for N+I and when I asked about WiFi telephony very few people in the audience were interested. Either I had a shy audience or Instat is way ahead of the curve. I have no doubt that WiFi telephony will be the predominant way we communicate in our homes and offices one day but it may take some time to work out the kinks.

I received a package from VOX Communications yesterday (a company that I own shares in) and it includes a new WiFi phone that I am looking forward to testing.

What excites me the most and gets me out of bed in the mornings is seeing all the different things I foresaw happening, actually happening. When I told vendors in the industry back in 2002 that WiFi telephony was going to be the wave of the future, they told me their situations wee so dire that they can’t even think about investing in this area. They further went on to say that perhaps the ROI wasn’t there. There was lots of pessimism in the industry at that time.

Everyone is getting into WiFi telephony. It is amazing how this technology has reached 100% acceptance in the market. I am still waiting of course for my dotcom moment… When someone comes along and tells my one of the URLs is a must have and writes a big fat check for the ownership privileges. Until then, I won’t quit my day job – And when I finally retire on that tropical island, I promise to make sure it has WiFi and will take my WiFi telephony handset with me.

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