Enterprise use of voice-over-Wi-Fi will double by 2014, according to new research. Smartphones with Wi-Fi will grow from 45 percent in 2009 to 90 percent over the next five years, reported ABI Research.
"Business customers are the primary adopters of smartphones, and with increased penetration of Wi-Fi smartphones, this changes the playing field between cellular and Wi-Fi F/MC (Fixed/Mobile Convergence)," according to the research report.
Report author Dan Shey told Enterprise VoIPplanet there are several reasons for the expected upswing in usage, chiefly the need for top players to remain involved.
"By adding a UC/FMC component to their portfolios, companies such as Avaya, Cisco, and Motorola protect and hold their position within the enterprise, allowing enterprises to gain greater value from existing assets," Shey said.
Overall, F/MC in the enterprise by 2014 will reach 27 million business workers, up sharply from 6.3 million in 2009. (F/MC embraces cellular femtocells as well as voice over-Wi-Fi.)
Among other issues, businesses need to keep better tabs on social networks such as Facebook and MySpace, which are increasingly viewed via phones by business customers.
Still uncertain is the impact Web-based VoIP applications for cell phones, such as Skype and Truphone, will have on business use of F/MC.
While not enterprise ready now, "their availability will change how we view VoIP on cell phones, leading to some interesting opportunities and challenges for the mobile supply chain," said Dan Shey, ABI Research practice director.
Among the possibilities: a partnership with between a Wi-Fi aggregator and an operator to produce a downloadable VoIP client used to spot airport or hotel hotspots for business people.
Worldwide, F/MC on enterprise handsets grew by 230 percent during 2008 to 2.67 million devices, research firm Frost & Sullivan recently announced.
"Last year, we witnessed the materialization of different advanced enterprise F/MC solutions into the marketas well as the considerable growth of real commercial deployments," Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Alaa Saayed said in a statement.