There are two wireless technologies competing in the business voip communications market. As a Hosted PBX Provider, Monmouth Telecom has had the opportunity to test and deploy both of these technologies for various types of businesses. Our experience has uncovered some pretty surprising facts about wireless voip communications. Here is Monmouth Telecom's analysis of DECT vs. WIFI.
Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications
This is the primary technology that powers the world's cordless phones and baby monitors. It is a mature technology being used all over the world for wireless voice communications. The specification was developed in Europe around 1990 and is very stable.
What is WIFI?
This is the primary technology connecting our laptops, smartphones, and tablets to the internet. This technology has become commonplace in our homes and offices from the early 2000's.
Spoiler Alert! Before you get all bogged down by disadvantages and advantages of each technology there is an elephant in the room that needs to be addressed. WIFI almost works for voice. That's right, you read that correctly, almost works. If you need wireless phone calls that always work, WIFI is not for you. Sure, you can certainly set up some voip devices on your wifi network, and you can make a phone call, and maybe it will even sound great. The problem is that some portion of your calls will have audio problems. Some portion of your calls will go unanswered and will be dropped. It is simply because the QOS standards in WIFI aren't established and widely adopted yet. I will cover this more below. OK, now for the Pro's and Con's in details.
DECT was designed for Voice. It operates on its own isolated frequency, guaranteeing that the Voice is never competing for resources with a lower priority communication. DECT has been used for Voice for over 20 years. DECT works reliably.
WIFI is inexpensive. You probably already have a wifi network, so buying a wifi voip phone is your only expense. You can even simply download a soft-phone app on your smartphone for free and start making VoIP calls on your wireless lan. WIFI is less maintenance. You have to maintain a wireless network whether you use it for voice or not.
DECT isn't free. You have to buy a base station and possibly repeaters. DECT operates on its own wireless network and there are infrastructure costs associated with it.
WIFI doesn't always work! WIFI wasn't designed for voice. It is a packet based technology designed for data communications. WIFI hasn't established QOS standards. For VoIP to work, the Voice needs to be prioritized. This is called QOS or quality of service. When a network component sees two pieces of data competing, one for youtube and one for your phone call, it needs to know to prioritize your phone call. Without QOS you end up with gaps in the audio, distortion and dropped calls.
WIFI clearly has advantages, and one day when the WIFI QOS standards are mature it will be a great and inexpensive medium for wireless communications. Unfortunately, we are not there yet. In today's marketplace, if you want a wireless voice technology that actually works in your office, DECT is your only choice. Luckily there are plenty of vendors manufacturing DECT phones, including Polycom and Snom. Check out our favorites in our office voip phones page.