An inescapable evolution

Several factors are driving the integration of Wi-Fi and cellular phones. At the top are the demands of an increasingly mobile global workforce to stay connected while in and out of the office and on the road.

However, enterprises planning to converge their wireless voice networks should ensure that the merged wireless systems they implement offer all of the same services and applications their current telecom and data networking solutions offer, such as call forwarding, conferencing, voice messaging, etc.

At the top of an enterprise CIO's "wish list" should be security. One of several security-related issues to consider is the implication of an outsider co-opting a user's wireless signal. This is possible with so-called "honey pots," also known as rogue wireless access points, designed to make employees believe they're connected to the corporate network. When such a stealth maneuver takes place, an outsider has credentials that grant access to proprietary systems and the data they house.

That means taking a proactive security stance with wireless communications is critical to a successful deployment. By proactive, I'm referring to systems that can provide authentication and built-in encryption protocols.

Enterprises will almost certainly have to set up virtual firewalls, or "domes" of security, around their wireless systems to ensure wireless network users are not lured to outside access points, compromising the network.

Enterprise CIOs considering the move to Voice Over Wi-Fi (VoWi-Fi) must also realize a true converged network is key. They must seriously consider deploying a standards-based WLAN that is optimized for voice and data.

With the next generation of communications upon us, don't be too surprised when you see significant strides made across the wireless market during the coming months.

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