What it will take for mobile VoIP to get enterprise-ready

WiMAX, LTE could play big role, as could security improvements.

"Initially you'll have about 30 cities with LTE coverage, so it will only be in certain areas," he says. "When the networks build out in five years' time, you'll see a lot more adoption of mobile VoIP. "But even with more mobile VoIP options on the table in the future, Gartner still projects that mobile VoIP traffic will account for under 5% of all mobile voice traffic through 2012. However, Gartner says that carriers can't afford to overlook the potential of mobile VoIP, as "the emergence of more free VoIP services... will attract people using mobile VoIP on a casual basis."

Fernando Egea, the director of solution architecture for Alcatel-Lucent, says that pressure from independent mobile VoIP providers could make life difficult for carriers, who don't want to be in the position of supporting their competitors' voice services on their own data networks. This market pressure, says Egea, could lead to major changes in how carriers price their cellular minutes.

"The carriers have to ask themselves, 'How do we make money by supporting Skype and Truphone over our networks?'"he says. "The way things are going, it's very possible that voice could become free in the future and that carriers would make their money instead off of mobile data."

Security needed

Improved wireless networks are only part of the equation for making mobile VoIP an enterprise fixture, of course. Another key will have to be security, since sending voice calls through Internet Protocol leaves them open to the same vulnerabilities as other kinds of Internet traffic.

"There doesn't seem to be a general concern about security for mobile VoIP yet," Schatt says. "People don't necessarily think of mobile VoIP in the same way they think of their other IP services, and they aren't as worried about DDoS attacks against voice services or about spammers that could target VoIP and send robotic voice messages over IP networks."

Schatt says that many of the mobile VoIP security products on the market today are similar to AirMagnet's VoFi Analyzer, which is primarily focused on QoS, and Motorola's AirDefense Enterprise, which focuses on securing enterprise WLANs but that doesn't specialize in protecting mobile VoIP traffic. And although most mobile VoIP security solutions today are capable of encrypting voice traffic, Schatt says that this won't be enough once more threats to mobile VoIP start to emerge.

"You have to take the same safeguards with mobile VoIP as with wireline VoIP," says Schatt. "But it's even more critical because you are dealing with less available bandwidth."

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