Telephony will be one of the biggest applications for wireless local area networks (Lans), new research has claimed.
The technology will be important as companies look to replace pagers, improve group communications and reduce telephony costs, according to analyst firm Yankee Group.
The firm added that the market could be profitable for resellers, because voice over Wi-Fi requires very strong integration capabilities.
Voice over wireless Lan can complement traditional enterprise telephony by driving down call costs in offices and allowing integration of voice and data.
"Forty per cent of employees are mobile, spending 20 per cent of their day away from their desks," said Sarah Kim, wireless and communications analyst at Yankee Group.
The next four years will see increasing adoption of voice over wireless Lan in retail, healthcare, warehousing and education sectors, the report predicted.
But it could be more than five years before the technology is cheap enough for SMEs to adopt.
Kim said the industry must overcome numerous challenges if voice over wireless Lan is to move out of the trial-and-error phase and improve its current market penetration of one per cent.
Expensive handset prices and concerns about Wi-Fi power consumption and interoperability are holding back adoption, she said.
Two-thirds of those surveyed said security is their top concern in adopting wireless Lan. Difficulty in justifying a return on investment and the high cost of ownership were also seen as barriers to adoption.
"It's imperative that people consider the overall cost of handsets, deployment of systems and cost of access points," said Kim.
Jess Thompson-Hughes, managing director of React Technologies, said: "Manufacturers want you to buy [the devices], but you can achieve the same functionality by using iPaqs or adding [voice] cards to a laptop.
"Some SMEs will be slow on the uptake, but they can get immediate benefits. If you can talk to anyone in your company free of charge, then that's a pretty powerful offering."
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