This is not a cellphone

Mehta, Stephanie N.
May 2003
Fortune International (Europe);5/26/2003, Vol. 147 Issue 10, p67
High-speed wireless Internet access, better known as Wi-Fi, keeps cropping up in the most unexpected places. Group Dekko has been employing wireless systems for years to transmit data, usually scanned bar codes, to and from its shop floors. What's really surprising is that Group Dekko now uses its Wi-Fi system for telephone calls too--a service so new that technology geeks haven't yet come up with a wonky acronym or nickname for it. Managers and supervisors use special handsets to make and receive voice calls on the same wireless broadband network the company uses for Internet access. The calls are converted to Internet Protocol data "packets." They essentially travel for free as long as they stay on Group Dekko's wireless intranet. Wi-Fi, it seems, is finally moving into corporate phone systems. Voice over Wi-Fi is particularly appealing to companies and institutions whose workers spend most of their time away from their desks, such as nurses and retail managers. Data-networking giant Cisco Systems drew new attention to the technology by announcing its own Wi-Fi phone in late April. The devices aren't as practical as cellphones when it comes to traveling outside the office. "Roaming" from a corporate Wi-Fi network to a public system technically is possible using the same type of technologies that enable roaming on traditional cellular networks. But the hodgepodge of Wi-Fi networks makes such seamless connections impossible today.


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