VoIP Going Mobile

Employee mobility and BYOD programs are driving business mobile VoIP adoption.

Mobile VoIP

Voice over IP (VoIP) has evolved to become the foundation of business communications across industry sectors. IP-PBXs are popular because they deliver a host of business benefits, including cost savings, flexibility, simplified administration, advanced features and more.

Increasingly, the benefits that IP-based communications deliver are being extended to mobile devices through mobile VoIP. According to technology research and consulting firm In-Stat, the number of business mobile VoIP users will increase tenfold over the next five years, with implementation both enterprise- and individual-driven.

“There are several reasons that adoption of mobile VoIP makes sense,” said In-Stat Senior Analyst Amy Cravens. “Some of these include the ability to take the desktop phone experience with you, the ability to utilize the benefits of IP-based communication features, a cheaper international long-distance cost, an easy implementation path and better indoor coverage where cell phone reception has historically been poor.”

Business Drivers

Mobile VoIP is an extension of enterprise IP communications that enables VoIP calls to be placed over a cellular data or Wi-Fi network from a mobile device. Voice traffic travels over the available broadband connection, whether that connection is 3G, EDGE, Wi-Fi or GPRS.

Like fixed VoIP, mobile VoIP is being adopted in both the consumer and business segments, but has only recently begun to be implemented in the business environment. Yet growth rates are strong and In-Stat predicts that business use will have grown to nearly 83 million lines/seats by 2015. Ultimately, IP-PBX users will account for the majority of business mobile VoIP usage.

Mobile VoIP is increasingly popular because it combines IP desk phone functionality with the flexibility of smartphones. Mobile VoIP empowers organizations to create a more productive, responsive and accessible workforce by extending the full power of an IP desk phone and unified communications (UC) capabilities to the mobile user. Dual persona features ensure easy separation of personal and business identities on a single mobile device. Seamless and automatic selection of the best available network — Wi-Fi or cellular — enables users to communicate from anywhere.

Mobile VoIP also enables enterprises to reduce their overall telecom costs by eliminating international roaming and direct dial costs on mobile devices. It also allows organizations to right-size the number of IP desk phones that are purchased and maintained.

Eliminating the Chaos of BYOD

Mobility is not the only factor driving mobile VoIP adoption. As the workforce becomes younger and more tech-savvy, employees continue to introduce consumer tools and services into the enterprise — with and without the blessing of IT departments. Experts call this the “consumerization” of IT and expect it to dramatically alter the way businesses choose, use and manage technology. The consumerization of IT is driving the “bring your own device” (BYOD) revolution, in which employees use personally owned devices for work.

Mobile VoIP solutions that integrate smartphones and tablets with leading IP-PBX systems extend corporate communication applications to employee-owned devices, reducing support burdens. IT can empower users with enterprise UC on the smartphones they love, leveraging the IP-PBX platform that they already have — all while reducing costs and securing enterprise communications.

“We are hearing a lot from clients looking for advice around BYOD, and we see this as a big issue for enterprises, in addition to the efficiency and productivity benefits that mobile devices bring. Enterprises should look to a solution that supports a broad range of leading smartphones and tablets, as the devices being used at work are not always company owned. Enterprises will prefer a solution that is part of their existing IP-PBX and UC system or works with the existing system, therefore avoiding upgrades or replacement of their existing infrastructure,” said Steve Blood, vice president of research at Gartner.

Cost Savings and More

Mobile VoIP solutions also deliver some of the classic benefits associated with VoIP, including reduced costs and ease of administration. With software that switches networks intelligently and automatically between wireless and cellular for the best option available at any given moment, the latest mobile VoIP solutions can dramatically reduce international roaming and direct dial charges on smartphones. In fact, mobile VoIP can help organizations reduce their mobile phone bills by up to 70 percent on a broad range of smartphones.

Mobile VoIP empowers IT to manage enterprise communications in a BYOD environment in a way that reduces security risks without hindering productivity. The latest mobile VoIP solutions can ease the workload of IT staff by bringing enterprise IP-PBXs, UC systems and a plethora of mobile device platforms within a single management interface.

As workers increasingly rely upon their own mobile devices for communications, enterprise VoIP and UC platforms need to be mobilized and infused with context such as presence and location information — anywhere and anytime. Mobile VoIP solutions provide the infrastructure to seamlessly extend desk phone functionality to smartphones and other devices. Mobile VoIP enables mobile workers to take advantage of the benefits of IP-based communications, while allowing organizations to reduce costs and better manage BYOD programs.