VOIPs Time Has Arrived
Getting everything onto the IP network could help it handle security problems.The barriers to widespread adoption of voice over IP on enterprise networks have fallen one by one. After years of development, the technical and economic roadblocks are down; VOIP is now practical and offers excellent performance at low cost. Broadband Internet connections are increasingly ubiquitous on the desktop, whether at work, on the road or at home. Meanwhile, sophisticated Code Division Multiple Access schemes are squeezing previously unthinkable amounts of multiuser bandwidth out of even the unlicensed spectral commons of the 2.4GHz Wi-Fi band. These resources make bandwidth-intensive services such as VOIP stop looking like exotic "what if" and more like an obvious "why not." Plugging a voice headset into a wireless laptop, or even a wireless PDA, and making voice calls to anywhere on the Internet now looks like the cheap and easy way to handle voice messaging. There is also the bonus of synergies that can come from having e-mail, voice mail and every other service on a single network that shares a single enterprise infrastructure for provisioning users, granting access rights and allocating costs.
A sign of industry recognition of this trend is the acquisition of wireless equipment maker Linksys by Cisco Systems. The economics of increasingly low-priced software-defined radio equipment and the market psychology of pervasive growth in wireless via thousands of inexpensive new access points define an opportunity that Cisco does well to embrace.