Wi-Fi and VOIP near full convergence

Don't expect revolutionary apps or cellular-provider cooperation anytime soon, though

Don't know what it is, but nine times out of 10 when I somehow get roped into listening to some four-foot stage star with fiery curls and a voice like a prepubescent foghorn belt out "Tomorrow," I get a headache. Maybe I'm too close to the stage. Like I'm too close to tech predictions -- or tenuous segues. I mean, I've just spent several months of man-hours composing verse for the Vista vision, and what's suddenly the biggest story? 2009's Vista's successor, Vienna. (OK, what's with the Vs?)

Methinks if you're still jonesing for tech predictions, we should get off the OS wagon for a bit and look at something else -- at least until we've all had a year or two of Vista crashes so we have enough anecdotes to really fuel a Vienna prediction. So if I put on my swami hat, my favourite prediction predilection for 2007 is VOIP. Gonna see some cool stuff in that department this year.

First off, it's going to be a big year for Wi-Fi and VOIP. I'll have more on this next week, but I'm still buried under embargo this week. But if you want a hint, think dialing your boss right from the plane at the airport and getting yelled at for losing that sale the entire cab ride to the office -- then stepping out of the cab, heading into the office, and having your cell phone switch over to your company's Wi-Fi VOIP network without ever missing a single abusive syllable. Now that's progress!

Who cares about that? Think about the kind of device it would take. A single, smart, portable device capable not just of carrying on a conversation, but also of handling all those advanced VOIP applications folks are developing on Microsoft's Live Communications Server, Exchange, and other stuff. And then think about buying one of those devices for each employee rather than a desk-bound handset and a smart phone.

Now let's look at those applications. See, here I'm a little pessimistic. Sure, we'll see more IP telephony-capable features in stuff like CRM and vertical apps, but I'm doubtful about seeing anything truly revolutionary. At least not this year. This is going to be the year that phones start talking to customer databases, scheduling client appointments, talking to inventory systems ... the basic back-end smorgasbord.

I'm also not to bullish on the cell phone providers helping out. See, if they were good and pious people, they would offer new cell plans aimed at companies moving entirely to single cell handsets for each employees. They'd put reduced pricing in there for high call volumes. Add discounted packages for video conferencing -- especially for services provided by third-party vendors.

But they won't. They're little guys in black hats with handle bar moustaches who tie innocent blonde virgins to train tracks, then scurry away snickering. They're going to offer business cell plans designed to maximize the charges a company might incur if every call came from a cell phone. They'll find ways to delay or even block dual-mode Wi-Fi-capable cell phones for as long as possible. We'll need to see innovation there first from companies not tied too closely to any one cell provider.

And in places where the cell provider and the telecom company are one and the same (i.e. Verizon), they're going to keep playing anti-VOIP games on the traffic side. Certain telecom and cable providers already try to block specific VOIP traffic packets, and the more that technology seeks to rob them of revenue, the more we'll see this happen. Look at it from their perspective: Court battles can take a really long time.

So 2007 is going to be the year we start glimpsing the true potential of fully converged, highly mobile voice and data devices. It's just not going to be the year we really get to use them.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Oliver Rist

InfoWorld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?