AirMagnet retools WLAN applications for wireless VoIP traffic

AirMagnet Inc. has issued new versions of two wireless LAN applications, and linked them together for optimizing enterprise WLANs for VoIP traffic.

Together, the two programs now create a way to visually display such things as coverage and performance data for VoIP calls, call quality, call roaming patterns and problems, and diagnostics. That data can be used to optimize the enterprise WLAN for VoIP traffic.

To do this, the company added new code to AirMagnet Survey Pro, which is a visual WLAN design and planning tool, so that it can map out and report data pulled from the second application, the updated AirMagnet VoFi Analyzer Pro. Survey collects live signal, packet and radio spectrum data, including 802.11n, which then can be used to simulate and measure network performance. The Analyzer application, released in 2006, is designed specifically for troubleshooting WLAN-based VoIP traffic.

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Voice traffic over enterprise WLANs currently is not widely or heavily used, with some exceptions in vertical markets such as health care, high tech, manufacturing and hospitality, acknowledges Wade Williamson, director of product management for AirMagnet, based in Sunnyvale, Calif. The growing influx of smartphones that have both cellular and Wi-Fi radios will push enterprise users to maximize call traffic over “free” enterprise WLANs instead of more costly cellular connections, he predicts.

Tools like those from AirMagnet and rivals such as Ekahau Inc. of Reston, Va., are among the few specifically designed for wireless VoIP. They are used in designing or redesigning enterprise WLANs to handle the unique requirements of streaming voice traffic, including maintaining high call quality, compared to the more bursty and delay-tolerant wireless data applications.

The new release of VoFi Analyzer includes support for the latest version, 7.0, of Cisco Call Manager. The application can collect from CCM such information as latency, lost packets, and why calls were terminated, and correlate it with data from Wi-Fi access points and phones.

AirMagnet Survey’s GUI is unchanged, but now includes a host of VoIP-specific pull-down menu items that let a user make use of the data from Analyzer. Both applications also now recognize an array of VoIP-related requirements from vendors, such as Cisco or Spectralink. For a Cisco network, the applications now can show what the vendor recommendations and requirements are for effective VoIP calls, and compare those with your existing network’s capabilities.

Pricing for the two applications, both available now, is unchanged. AirMagnet Survey is US$2,695, VoFi Analyzer is US$4,995.

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