Voice over Wi-Fi, commonly referred to as VoFi, has already found popularity in certain verticals, including manufacturing, medical and retail. It’s no surprise why these industries are early adopters: their employees are extremely mobile and need to be connected at all times, at all locations in the facility.
But really, doesn’t this sound like your business?
Two years ago, we talked about two major business cases for VoFi: indoor call quality and cost savings. In terms of indoor call quality, with the ratification of 802.11n VoFi is now as reliable as calling on any wired system. 802.11n increases overall throughput and range, ensuring that all areas where telephone access is required have exceptional coverage, eliminating dropped calls and guaranteeing excellent call quality – something cellular connections cannot achieve, especially when indoors.
As for cost savings, VoFi eliminates cellular expenses for campus-based, mobile employees. Let’s use an extremely large home improvement chain as an example. Calls constantly roll in asking about inventory, selection, and even advice. Store employees need mobility, and reliable coverage, so that they can access any aisle anywhere in the store to respond to customer calls. Years back this chain would have relied on cellular phones for each sales associate, at a significant monthly cost and with poor reliability deep within the “big box.” With VoFi, a simple investment in VoFi handsets, and leveraging the existing Wi-Fi network, the cost is one-time, low, and yet delivers the reliability needed. Even if the Wi-Fi network requires a bit of an upgrade to handle the VoFi traffic, the savings still present an overwhelming business case for transitioning to VoFi.
Although call quality and cost savings are still the primary factors in making a business case for VoFi, another major factor, and maybe the most appealing one to businesses yet, is the new and ever growing trend of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to work. With this trend, VoFi can easily move from a vertical to a horizontal play in the overall market.
The trend is clear, and we probably all experience it every day. How many people now list their mobile numbers on their business cards? My informal survey after collecting a mountain of cards at the last trade show, is most. This says that employees are willing and able to use their cell phones for business. As 802.11 continues to develop, and the promise of “smart hand-off” from cellular to Wi-Fi networks is realized, all companies, not just a few select verticals, can benefit from the technology. And the savings isn’t just in reduced cellular expenses. As the shift is made away from the desk phone and to the mobile phone, companies will no longer need to provide desktop handsets, or the power and wired connections that they require, further enhancing the cost savings from VoFi. We’ve already written a little bit about the BYOD practice, and its positive and negative effects. You can check out our blog post on the subject here.
With BYOD quickly becoming ubiquitous, creating a VoFi system and updating to 802.11n capabilities is inevitable, being that we live in a culture where the dividing line between work devices and home devices, and even work life and home life, is increasingly blurred. Business is done on an employee’s cell phone, and contracts are signed on the CEOs’ tablet. Thus it’s imperative that when these transactions are performed, they receive the highest quality connectivity, and are done on the most secure network possible.
As business expenses continue to grow, isn’t it great to find a technology that can help reverse the trend? It’s important to start understanding the benefits of VoFi today, and what this technology can provide for your business. If done correctly it can be a huge asset to your business processes, but along with it you still need to ensure that you are implementing a proper WLAN design, as well as monitoring, testing, and verifying your wireless system, so it can reach its full capacity.