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Wireless Handsets: DECT vs WiFi

Wireless Handsets: DECT vs WiFi

Jay Brant • Aug 23, 2018 •

Business wireless handsets come in many shapes and sizes, but they all use one of two technologies to communicate: DECT and Wi-Fi. When you’re shopping for a cordless phone for your business, you’re going to have to choose between these two.

Which should you choose?

We’re going to let you know the advantages of each and considerations you should take into account.

Stick around for a discussion of the big problem of spectrum density that is making some businesses choose a hybrid deployment.

Business Man

DECT or Wi-Fi?

Both of these wireless technologies are used in professional telephony deployments.

Most businesses still want to have separate phone systems, rather than relying on BYOD (bring your own device) environments in which employees use their personal smartphones. This makes sense, especially for security reasons.

Business handsets also are purpose-built for the office, warehouse, retail store, and other environments. That means they have workplace specific functions, including integrated barcode scanners, alarm buttons, and internal text messaging.

These options are available for both DECT and Wi-Fi handsets. But what separates the two technologies?

Office Chair

What are the advantages of DECT?

There are many reasons why people have kept on going with DECT for such a long time, and the offerings for business handsets are extensive. Spectralink, for example, offers a rich selection of DECT handsets.

Stability. DECT is a long-proven standard that has been relied upon for almost three decades.

Security. The DECT standard comes with a full range of security protocols, including authentication, encryption, and identification.

Purpose-built standard. DECT was designed for phones, so it works with no headaches. Wi-Fi was designed for data, so you need to prioritize voice data using QoS controls to ensure stable communications.

Better at obstacles. The biggest challenge to any wireless standard is obstacles: walls, boxes, people, anything. DECT, which uses a lower frequency than Wi-Fi, is better at passing through obstacles.

Keeps your Wi-Fi network free. DECT uses an independent system from your WLAN. If your voice communications are travelling through the same Wi-Fi network as all the rest of your network traffic, you might swamp it with too much traffic.

No extra access points. Because voice communications need a space that is thoroughly covered, you’ll most likely need to install properly spaced extra wireless access points for Wi-Fi to ensure good handover. DECT connectivity is much less temperamental.

Does DECT connect directly to my IP phone system?

No. DECT is a separate standard than SIP and other VoIP standards.

DECT handsets communicate with a base station or a repeater. A repeater is a signal extender, the equivalent of an access point. The base station connects to the IP network.

What is DECT?

We get this question sometimes, so here’s a quick answer.

DECT stands for Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications. It’s a highly stable wireless communications standard that’s been around for around 30 years. In essence, it works like a local cellular network.

Office Chair

What are the advantages of Wi-Fi?

There are many excellent options for Wi-Fi handsets, including options like the soon-to-be-released Grandstream WP820 and the Spectralink Wi-Fi handsets.

Simplicity. You don’t need to set up a whole other network for your handsets. You just use your wireless network.

Cost-effective. If you already have a good Wi-Fi network, then you don’t need to buy any new networking equipment for Wi-Fi handsets.

Mobile integration. If your VoIP service supports it, you can use a smartphone as a secondary Wi-Fi handset.

What is VoWLAN?

You might see the term “VoWLAN” when researching this topic.

VoWLAN, a clumsy term, stands for Voice over Wireless LAN. All you need to know is that it means your handsets are connected to Wi-Fi.

Dense City

Considerations about spectrum density

As wireless becomes more and more popular, businesses now face the big problem of spectrum density.

Wireless devices communicate on specific bands (or spectra). For example, DECT 6.0, the North American standard of DECT, the band is 1920-1930 MHz. If enough devices are simultaneously communicating within that band, their signals won’t have enough space to remain distinct, leading to signal loss.

Density is particularly acute with wireless headsets, but you might find that density also is affecting your wireless handsets.

Hybrid wireless systems

The good news is that the different wireless standards, DECT and Wi-Fi (and Bluetooth, of course), use different bands for communication. This means that you can employ a hybrid wireless system with some DECT devices and Wi-Fi devices, which means both will have enough space.

So if you notice that wireless devices aren’t as stable as they used to be, one solution might be a hybrid wireless system.

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