Voice Over Wi-Fi (VoWLAN) vs. SIP-Dect: Workplace Communications


Voice Over Wi-Fi: is it a cost effective strategy for adding mobility to your workplace community?

Recently we were approached by one of our clients about the options available for enhancing their workplace communications by adding mobility through the use of their existing WiFi infrastructure with a Voice over a Wireless Local Access Network (VoWLAN). Whilst this is possible and a potential way to leverage existing equipment and network, it does require some considerations regarding security, reliability and coverage. The obvious alternative to this method is to deploy a DECT service which guarantees voice communications from given that it operates on an isolated frequency, dedicating all of its resources to voice communication.

How a VoWLAN works

A VoWLAN uses Wi-Fi which is a packet-based technology intended for data communications and as such is pretty unreliable for voice communications as there is no prioritisation for voice over data communications. Similarly, WiFi has no established Quality of Service (QoS) standards. As a result it is unable to prioritise competing data which commonly results in issues such as audio gaps, distortion and dropped calls.

Whilst VoWLAN can offer a good solution within a certain perimeter, it does not lend itself greatly to extending out in to peripheral areas such as hallways, staircases or corridors without the use of signal repeaters or network extenders. VoWLAN is restricted as it doesn’t offer seamless roaming between access points which could mean that when is a call is in progress and the user is moving between access points, the handover is broken up as the encryption must be reformed

DECT as an alternative to VoWLAN

DECT technology is a much more viable and reliable technology solution for workplace mobility and has been a trusted and proven voice communication means for well over 20 years, as opposed to WiFi which is a relatively new technology, comparatively. Another consideration to take on-board is the limitation on the number of simultaneous calls per access points. Typically, a VoWLAN set up will be limited to three or four handsets (less if there is data being carried too) as opposed to a DECT set-up which can handle up to 8 handsets with concurrent calls.

Additionally, security is a serious consideration when contemplating this scenario as the typical security protocols for voice communications involve: authentication, authorisation, accounting and encryption as standard, which is not the case with a VoWLAN set-up. So in matters pertaining to confidentiality such as trade secrets, medical data or customer data, it will be vitally important that the relevant security protocols are enacted if deploying a VoWLAN. That’s not to say that a VoWLAN security strategy can’t be enacted but it will require a significant input your IT department or ICT contractor to implement it and ensure it conforms to the corresponding IT policies and is properly maintained.

Additional Considerations and Costs

Whilst it is true that there is an opportunity to reduce costs by implementing a VoWLAN such as the routing of calls over the data network internally or over the Internet externally, mobile telephony costs can be eliminated or decreased significantly. But even still, there are often costs that the upgrading of an existing WLAN system to a full Voice over Wireless Local Access Network that some fail to account for. For example, to upgrade an infrastructure to facilitate this will typically require the number of existing access points to be increased. Similarly, there may be a requirement to add bandwidth to the internet connection to handle any additional capacity added to the internet service provision.

Cost Benefit Analysis

With our client, we had to explain the shortcomings of this solution such as call quality being compromised, mobility being potentially limited and potential security concerns. Most of these can be addressed but at an additional and often unaccounted for cost and depending on business requirements, can negate the assumed benefits of a VoWLAN. In order to understand whether a VoWLAN or DECT set-up is best for your business we would advocate doing a cost analysis that factors the pros and cons for each into their decision.

Free Cost Benefit Analysis on VoWLAN or DECT

Thinking of implementing a VoWLAN or DECT set-up? Speak to the communications engineers at incovo to get the right solution for your business. Fill in the contact form below and we one of our experts will get in touch with you or alternatively call 0845 450 4500 to discuss your requirements today.

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About incovo

incovo is a business communications technology integrator of category leading unified communications, infrastructure, integrated network solutions and document management solutions to small and mid-sized organisations throughout the UK. Our focus is creating dependable, cost-effective business communications solutions for businesses that ensure a variety of methods of collaboration to meet the ever-changing market conditions.

At incovo, we provide fast and effective support to all of our customers through our multichannel support network – allowing our customers to feel the benefits of compelling solutions that will enable their businesses to grow, tailored to their needs.

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