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Wireless VoIP Phones
February 1, 2012
Wireless VoIP, as the term suggests, is a VoIP phone freeing you from the constraints of wires. As a brief refresher, a VoIP phone is a telephone with built-in IP technology and transport protocols that is used in conjunction with a VoIP Phone system or VoIP service allowing you to send and receive calls. It is similar in fit, finish and functionality to a traditional desktop telephone except it uses a different underlying technology (IP).
The above description holds true for wireless VoIP phones except that the Ethernet port on the phone is not required to connect to your LAN or your computer for VoIP phone service.
A wireless VoIP Phone is a VoIP Phone with a built-in Wi-Fi or DECT transceiver unit that connects to an access point or base station. This allows you to move freely around your home and or office while on a call. You can even send and receive calls at a wireless hot spot!
Wireless VoIP allows you and your employees to:
Freely wander about the office while maintaining continuous availability.
Leave the desk to assist customers directly from warehouse or sales floor.
Increase efficiency and productivity by decreasing response time to events or questions.
Types of Wireless VoIP Phones
There are three basic types of wireless VoIP phones. Which type you choose will determine how it is connected to your network:
Our favorite: Apple iPhone Wireless Phone Apps. There are a bunch to select from. Many are free. Users have the ability to use this phone anywhere in the world where a WiFi connection is available. Features such as Hold and Transfer are even supported.
WiFi VoIP Phones: A wireless access point is needed to connect and register with a service provider or PBX. These phones normally work with the 802.11b/g standard and will scan to find the nearest access point. The majority of WiFi VoIP phones are cordless but, the Cisco SPA525G2 is a standard desktop model.
DECT VoIP Phones: Operating with a wireless handset but, these phones have a base station that is hardwired to an internet connection and then the signal is transmitted wirelessly to the handset. These are single line phones, have a range of 300 square feet from the base station, and signal repeaters are available if you need to increase the handsets range from the base station.
How to Set Up Wi-Fi VoIP Phone Systems
WiFI VoIP phones need an internet connection to effectively make and receive VoIP calls so, the first necessity is to have a broadband internet connection with adequate bandwidth. Next, for your WiFI phones to operate wirelessly in your home or business requires a wireless LAN (local area network) but, you use the same network that’s used for your computers and other wireless devices.
Routers and Access Points
Connecting wireless communication devices together, to create a wireless network, requires a broadband router or a wireless access point (WAP) connected to a broadband modem that transmits the signal to the WiFi phone.
To maximize the range of the WAP, the network area size and the number of users will determine how many wireless access points are required. A usual range is a maximum of 300 feet but walls and other environmental factors can produce interference that will decrease that range.
A distance of about 150 feet between WAP’s is a safe number in order to have continuous coverage throughout the area. Placement of the access points is critical so doing a site survey and strategically placing the WAP’s throughout the entire area included in the network is highly recommended.
Quality of Service
Quality of Service (QoS) is an important factor to consider when setting up a wireless VoIP network. QoS is the differentiation between types of traffic on a network so that they can be prioritized. For example, in a network where VoIP is used for communication you’ll want to give the voice traffic priority over data traffic.
This will help alleviate some of the issues experienced with VoIP such as packet loss, latency, jitter and echo. The use of WiFi phones can increase the likelihood of experiencing those voice quality issues if QoS is not taken into account, which makes it very important to integrate routers that have QoS capabilities when setting up your network.
The last point to touch on for WiFi VoIP setup is the security of your wireless network. Wireless communications are transmitted through the air making it easy for hackers to intercept information if the network is not secure. There are many wireless specific security solutions that you can implement including a few basic options
WEP Encryption – Short for Wired Equivalent Privacy, WEP is designed to provide the same level of security as that of a wired LAN. (Note: WiFi Protected Access or, WPA, is certainly stronger for encryption, but cross vendor interoperability is a hurdle. You should consider your circumstances before using WEP or WPA.)
Change the Default SSID of the Access Point – Most manufacturers have simple names as the default SSID’s (service set identifier) and by changing it to something unique you can cut down on the opportunity for someone to hack into the network. Disabling the SSID broadcast out to the wireless devices can also help.
MAC Address Filtering – MAC filtering is the process of configuring an access point with a list of MAC addresses that will be allowed or not allowed to gain access to the rest of the network via that wireless access point. Only MAC addresses that have been registered with the access point are able to gain access to your network.