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Wireless voice pioneer finally embraces 802.11g

SpectraLink will support high-speed wireless LANs with upcoming release, and push-to-talk is also on the way
Written by Richard Thurston, Contributor

SpectraLink, the pioneer of wireless voice phone systems, has finally extended its capabilities to support high-speed wireless LANs.

The company makes mobile handsets that carry calls over a company's WLAN to its PBX, allowing employees to be contactable wherever they are in the office, even if they're not at their desk.

Until now, SpectraLink's kit only worked using the 11Mbps 802.11b standard. But new handsets, due for release by the end of March, will work over much higher-speed 802.11g networks. 802.11g brings a bandwidth of 54Mbps, meaning more users can be supported per access point, and also leading to greater quality of service for applications, including voice.

"I expect that over time [such] phones will become the norm in most enterprises, replacing traditional desktop wireless phones," said Craig Matthias, a principal at mobile and wireless advisors Farpoint Group.

SpectraLink's new handsets, the Netlink 8000 family, will also offer push-to-talk messaging and WPA-encrypted voice calls.

But they will not be cheap. The basic handset in the new family will cost $595 (£306), while the push-to-talk model is to be priced at $675 (£347). SpectraLink commands a significant profit margin on its products: gross margin is currently a hefty 56.4 percent.

SpectraLink already produces white-labelled Wi-Fi phones which are sold by the likes of Nortel and Avaya.

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