Certified for Voice

By Vikki Lipset

October 13, 2003

WLAN startup Airespace promises interoperability with SpectraLink and Vocera gear, and passes third-party certification tests.

In an effort to simply matters for enterprises looking to deploy voice applications over wireless networks, WLAN switch startup Airespace has partnered with two leading voice over Wi-Fi companies to ensure interoperability with their products.

Interoperability is often cited as a barrier to enterprise adoption of VoWLAN. With no standards in place -- Quality of Service (QoS) is coming in the form of 802.11e, but that specification won't be ready until next year -- proprietary gear still reigns supreme.

Airespace, of San Jose, Calif., said Monday that it has tweaked its platform so that it is compatible with Vocera's Wi-Fi voice badges and server software, as well as SpectraLink's NetLink Telephone gateway and handsets.

"Voice is a huge criteria for wireless LAN selection today," said Jeff Aaron, senior manager of product marketing at Airespace. "We wanted to create complete solution sets for enterprise customers."

The company also has an OEM agreement with NEC, where Airespace's platform forms the basis for NEC's converged voice and data offerings.

In addition, Airespace said that an independent testing firm has certified its wireless switch and access point for voice applications. The Tolly Group of Manasquan, N.J., tested the Airespace 4000 Wireless Switch and Airespace 1200 Access Point (AP) and deemed them "Up to Spec" for supporting voice services.

The group tested a variety of criteria deemed necessary for supporting voice, including QoS, scalability, mobility and performance, said Aaron. The QoS tests checked queuing systems and congestion management systems to ensure that acceptable levels of bandwidth were provided to all voice traffic in the presence of other traffic.

Scalability tests determined that the system could support 14 simultaneous voice calls across one AP. Tully found that the Airespace platform supported seamless roaming across APs and subnets, with inter-subnet latencies as low as 31 milliseconds. Finally, real-time performance tests revealed an average end-to-end system latency (AP to switch to AP) of 3,000 microseconds.

Aaron said the Airespace WLAN platform is the first to be certified for voice.