AirMagnet Rolls Out Voice-Over-Wi-Fi Analysis Tool

AirMagnet today announced the AirMagnet VoFi Analyzer, a network analysis tool that helps network managers detect voice problems over wireless networks.

The VoFi Analyzer detects problems in real time, includes alarms and real-time statistical analysis, and uncovers roots causes. Its includes quality of service (QoS) features for seamless roaming, jitter control and call connection. The tool can monitor voice traffic from device to device and check that both wireless APs and wire-side devices are properly configured, to be sure all traffic is handled according to 802.11e QoS prioritization standards. The company claims it also calculates MOS scores and R-values for VoFi traffic, for an extremely accurate diagnosis of voice quality on the wireless network

At the moment, enterprise use of voice over wireless networks (VoWLAN) remains in its infancy, but sales are expected to pick up significantly in the coming years. The InfoTech research group estimates that revenues from VoWLAN sales will reach $1.1 billion by 2010. It expects that 77 percent of enterprises will be using VoWLAN by 2008 either fully deployed or as a pilot project. Holding back use of VoWLAN are quality and security issues as well as QoS.

But the driver behind VoWLAN is a significant one -- cost. Enterprises are seeing cellular phone line costs skyrocket, and the technology allows enterprises to leverage their existing Wi-Fi infrastructure to deploy wireless voice at little cost.

Use In Health Care And Beyond

Although the technology is not yet common in enterprises, it has significant penetration in the health care industry, according to Wade Williamson, AirMagnet VoFi Analyzer product manager.

Williamson cites several reasons why it has gained such traction in health care. Physicians, nurses, and other health care workers are mobile by the nature of the jobs they perform, and there are problems with the use of cellular phones in health care settings. Lead-shielded walls of X-ray rooms can cause problems with phone, and GSM devices often do not work in hospitals.

Because of these restrictions, health care institutions have been leaders in deploying Wi-Fi networks. And given that health care workers need instant access to phones, voice over wireless is a natural for them.

Enterprise deployments are lagging, and Williamson says that at the moment, he is mainly seeing pilot projects there, rather than full deployments. But because of the considerable savings such deployments can offer, "We think that there will be a larger enterprise market in the next six to twelve months."
Once those deployment are in place, he believes that enterprises will need to use a product like AirMagnet because of the inherent problems in channeling VoIP over wireless networks.

"If you're a network manage, you're having problems with voice over wireless, and try to get help, the phone and wireless vendors will point to each other as the cause of the problems. So you need to know yourself where the problems really are so that you can know how to fix it."

AirMagnet is used to launching products for emerging technologies in emerging markets --- several years ago it introduced Wi-Fi analyzers at a time when enterprises had yet to deploy Wi-Fi.

"When it comes to this product, it feels like it did three or four years ago when we launched our Wi-Fi analyzers, and some enterprises were waiting on the sidelines, trying to figure out how to deploy wireless. Today, they're all doing wireless LANs in some way."

In the same way, he expects that over the next few years, voice over wireless networks will become commonplace in enterprises, and that companies will need a product to help them detect and fix voice problems.
 
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