VoWiFi is used to reference a Wi-Fi-based VoIP service. VoWiFi is one of those weird acronym type words &$151; made up of a combination of abbreviation and acronym. Just because you can merge technologies, doesn't mean you should merge acronyms and abbreviations.

VoWiFi is a Wi-Fi based VoIP service. Where VoIP consists of the hardware and software.html that enables people to use the Internet as the transmission medium for telephone calls, VoWiFi is the wireless version of this technology which is designed to work on wireless devices such as a laptop or PDAs.

Mobile phones with cellular and WiFi radios are the future, according to ABI Research. VoWiFi (voice-over-WiFi) is cheaper and works better indoors, while creating revenue opportunities for carriers, ABI says. Linux powers several available VoWiFi phones and carrier switches.

The finding is part of an ABI study of VoWiFi handsets and dual mode (cellular + VoWiFi) handsets. The report examines technologies, companies, and industry groups, and forecasts market growth through 2010.

ABI Research senior analyst Philip Solis writes, "Cellular coverage is far from ideal indoors [and] most people would greatly prefer to have one phone that works just as well in the depths of a large building as it does outdoors."

Solis adds that VoWi-Fi provides a cheaper way for carriers to transmit calls, and provides "natural synergies and extra revenue opportunities where there are linkages joining wireless and wireline companies such as SBC and Cingular. So it's a tool for bundling that also provides cheaper services to consumers."

According to the study, BellSouth has announced impending field trials of a converged mobile/VoWiFi system in the enterprise environment, while SBC has announced plans to roll out VoWiFi to consumers by the end of 2006. British Telecom, meanwhile, has selected Bluetooth for its coming Bluephone VoIP service, but Salis sees this as "an interim step" towards VoWi-Fi. "The Bluephone is their precursor to a fully Voice over Wi-Fi solution, which would have a much better range than the Bluetooth radio installed in most mobile handsets," Salis explained.

Further details on the study, titled "Voice over Wi-Fi: Market Dynamics for Enterprise and Consumer VoWi-Fi, and Dual-mode Cellular/VoWi-Fi Handsets," are available from ABI's Website.

Linux-powered VoWiFi handsets have been produced by
Siemens and NexGen, while dual-mode mobile/VoWiFi phones are available from NEC and Panasonic. Dual-mode phones running Windows Mobile have been offered by Motorola and Fujitsu.

Linux-based carrier infrastructure equipment that supports cellular/VoWiFi roaming is available from Giga Stream.