There are many situations where you would want to use mobile private wireless communication devices (instead of cell phones) in your organization, in order to reach and communicate with staff/ employees faster and where ever they are within the campus. There are two technologies that allow you to do so, and in this article we will see the differences between both – DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Technology) Vs VoWLAN (Voice Over Wireless LAN).
What is DECT?
There are three types of EPABX (Voice Switch) systems – Analog, Mixed (Analog/Digital/IP), IP PBX (VOIP Server). The second and third types are more popular and widely available in many companies/ organizations. So, if a company has a Mixed PBX that is capable of handling Analog, Digital and IP communications, it could look at implementing DECT wireless communications within its campus.
DECT stands for Digital Enhanced Cordless Technology and is meant to enhance the Digital capabilities of an EPABX to the wireless domain. There are three major components of DECT – DECT Card/ Controller that is fitted in to the Digital Slots of the Mixed EPABX (generally), DECT Base Stations (that provide digital wireless signal coverage) and DECT phones which are wireless capable and can communicate to the EPABX from regions which are covered by the DECT base station, within an organization.
So, as you can guess, this system is used for wireless communication with the employees/ workers across an organization, where ever they are within the DECT coverage region. DECT is generally proprietary to the EPABX vendor and they use proprietary protocols to communicate over the wireless media to the DECT base stations through the Digital interface (which is also proprietary to the EPABX vendor) to communicate with the EPABX. DECT phones can make outgoing calls to any land line/ mobile number and even SIP trunks (via the EPABX, – if these trunk interfaces are connected and enabled in the EPABX). DECT phones can similarly call other DECT phones and Landlines within the organization as well.
What is Voice Over Wireless LAN (VoWLAN)?
Voice Over Wireless LAN (VoWLAN) is a more recent concept. In this, the IP Network (LAN) is the center of all communications. The main components of this solution include Wireless Access Points (to provide Wi-Fi coverage), Wireless Controller (to provide centralized management to all the wireless access points and also to provide roaming), IP PBX (VOIP Server for call control) and VoWLAN handsets (Wi-Fi enabled Phones).
In this case, the VoWLAN phones can use the Wi-Fi network created by the wireless access points / controller and communicate with the IP PBX (after initial registration) to make outgoing calls via the various trunk lines connected to the EPABX and also make calls to other VoWLAN phones connected in the network. Wi-Fi networks are standards based and offer Internet/Intra-net connectivity over the IP Networks (LAN) to Laptops/ PDA/ Cell Phones, etc. in addition to connecting the VoWLAN handsets (phones). More over, any phone (even cell phones) that has IEEE 802.11 standards based Wi-Fi adapters can connect to this network provided a SIP client can be installed on the phone and it can get registered to the IP PBX . There are Wi-Fi phones (without the cellular interface) available in the market and since the entire technology is standards based, multiple vendor’s products (IP PBX, SIP Phones, etc) can be used in the same network and are inter-operable. But generally, the Wireless LAN controller and the access points are from the same vendor to ensure full interoperability.
DECT vs VoWLAN:
So, the differences between the two technologies should be evident from the above explanation provided for both. As you might have guessed, DECT is slightly older technology when compared to the more recent Wi-Fi (VoWLAN) technology, but that doesn’t mean that the quality is better in VoWLAN technology! If you have already invested in a mixed EPABX system that can accommodate a DECT card/ controller, you could look at going for a DECT based system. But however, if you are planning to implement campus wide Wi-Fi (Wireless Network), it might be better to go with VoWLAN technology which is newer, standards based and lets you access data (Internet/Intranet) from anywhere. If you want to implement VoWLAN, it might be worthwhile to even consider replacing your mixed EPABX with a newer IP PBX (VOIP server) as it provides a lot of advantages in addition to VoWLAN.
One question that arises here is, if we need mobile voice communications, why not just use cellphones with CUG (Closed User Group) SIM cards for all the employees/ workers? But here, you still need to pay the minimum rental for each phone every month, which is a recurring expense that can be avoided by using DECT/ VoWLAN based communications. Also, many cell phones come with Wi-Fi as well as Cellular connectivity, and these phones can be leveraged to act as both internal mobile extensions (through Wi-Fi connectivity in VoWLAN) as well as cellular phones.
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