Ubiquitous VoIP UC over Mobile Data Plans: A Myth? Very Few Enterprise Vendors Seem Willing to Commit

can voip ride on the mobile data plan pipe

I’ve been trying to find a major UC Vendor that supports UC media (voice/video) over mobile data plans (2G/3G/4G, etc). While there is a lot of marketing that makes it appear that UC Voice/Video/Collaboration on VoIP is a smooth ubiquitous experience, when you read the technical details, the solution is really designed to work on “WIFI” or “your corporate” network. In some cases, it is noted, you need to switch to your mobile voice network when you leave corporate WIFI.

As an example of this reluctance read these excerpts found in Jabber for Android release notes:

  • “Voice quality over public Wi-Fi and mobile data network connections cannot be guaranteed.”
  • “When using Cisco Jabber to participate in Cisco WebEx conferences, you may experience audio issues. For example, you cannot hear participants, participants cannot hear you, you hear choppy or synthetic audio, or participants hear your audio as choppy or synthetic. To resolve these issues, tap Hold and then tap Resume.”
  • “Voice quality over mobile data network varies depending on the quality of your mobile data network connection and cannot be guaranteed. Examples of voice quality issues you may experience when using a mobile data network include the following:
    • If you are driving and listening to a voicemail message, you may have problems hearing the entire message and the audio may sound choppy or synthetic.
    • If you are driving and replying to a voicemail message, the recipient may have problems hearing the entire message and your message may sound choppy or synthetic.
    • If you try to access your voicemail and you enter your PIN, the time delay associated with remote access may cause prompts to play out of sync, or you may hear a message that you did not enter the PIN on time.”

Below is my informal (I did not contact each vendor/don’t claim to be expert in their mobility products) compilation of vendors that at first blush appear to do UC over VoIP everywhere, but when you start reading the technical brochures in it appears they are committing only to WIFI and Outside Voice/ Call Back/ Mobile Voice Network when not in WIFI range.

Note: I should note that vendor reluctance to commit to VoIP over mobile data networks is not a reflection against UC vendors, but a sign that mobile data networks in some (many?) areas are not primetime ready to handle real time communication data.

Note: If you find any mistakes in my informal research or have a vendor that does commit to VoIP over mobile data plan, let me know, along with URL source, and I’ll update this blog. Also if there is another vendor to add, drop me a comment.

Cisco Mobile iPhone Jabber 8.1: Wi-Fi

"Place, receive, and manage calls over a Wi-Fi network using your Apple iPhone..."

Cisco Android Jabber: Corporate Wi-Fi
In the video on this page it notes something like: you will need to switch to mobile voice network when leaving corp. wifi

Avaya One-X: Wi-Fi

"Wireless enabled enterprise campus 802.11 b/g/n"
Source click here

Shoretel Mobility: Wi-Fi/Mobile Data Networks

Shoretel Mobility can work over WIFI or Mobile Data Networks. In their technical notes (sources below) they note that when on WIFI you should use the below vendors, and i quote the list:

      • Cisco (including integration with Wireless LAN Controllers and Mobility Services Engine)
      • Aruba (including integrationwith Wireless LANControllers/Switches)
      • Meru
      • Motorola
      • HP
      • Trapeze
      • Aerohive

When on 3G or less I wonder what the plan is to keep from an “experimental” end user experience?

Source: Click Here

AltiGen Mobility for Microsoft Lync: WIFI/Mobile Data Networks/Outside Voice

Altigen supports Outside Voice for situations where VoIP over mobile data networks does not work.

Aastra Mobile Client Plus for iPhone: WIFI

It appears Aastra Mobile Plus for iPhone is designed to work in WIFI:

“The AMC+ dual mode function will setup the call over internet when you are in range of Wi-Fi access and in that way drastically reduce the mobile calling cost…”

Source: click here

AT&T VoIP App: Wi-Fi

"customers will benefit from the same rates using the app over Wi-Fi"

Counterpath: Wi-Fi/3G (w/ Disclaimer)

“Bria iPhone Edition is a SIP-based phone for Apple iPhone and iPod touch that uses a Wi-Fi or 3G connection to make and receive calls.”

Do note the Counterpath disclaimer related to mobile operators terms of service:

Some mobile network operators may prohibit or restrict the use of VoIP functionality over their network and may also impose additional fees, or other charges in connection with VoIP. You agree to learn and abide by your cellular carrier's network restrictions. CounterPath Corporation will not be held liable for any charges, fees or liability imposed by your carrier for use of VoIP over 3G.”

Source: click here

Damaka: Wi-Fi/3G

“…Moreover, damaka’s technology works across networks (WiFi, 3G, 4G). “

Some More articles that might be of interest:

Cisco says Call Back is not UC
why Outside Voice makes sense
Cisco Jabber Android Release Notes


  1. if you are "not a mobility expert" maybe you should have spent more time researching the products of the vendors listed in this article, instead of visiting each of their websites to breifly glance at their product offerings overview without fully understanding how the technology works.

  2. thanks for that feedback. I welcome specific information that can help make this article more accurate.

    The thesis of this article is: while some ent. uc vendors may be making it sound like VoIP over mobile data networks is a smooth ubiquitous experience in reality the experience is more like an experimental project in all but 4g areas. The more feedback I get, the more convinced i am of this reality. Obviously as mobile data networks improve this will change but for now i think my thesis stands. ;-)

    One twitter user has helped with making shoretel information more accurate which i appreciate.

    I actually have found that more (Counterpath) have warnings about using voip over mobile data networks because (apart from bad experience) it will break terms of service with mobile data network provider.

    So once again, join in the conversation with specific objections/correction. if the thesis is wrong, lets make the truth come out. ;-)


  3. You are correct in your research on ShoreTel Mobility. We try to optimize the voice quality on the available network connection by dynamically selecting the best VoIP codec for the connection type (e.g. g711, g729, amr, ilbc) as well as performing packet loss concealment and flow shaping. The mobile data networks are certainly more variable than the enterprise and remote Wi-Fi networks but are improving as the carriers build out their data network capacity and coverage.

    The best way for solutions to support the variable data networks is this intelligent codec selection when combined with proactively detecting connection degradation to automatically switch calls over cellular voice when the data degrades and again to automatically switch calls back when possible. This ensures high quality while minimizing cost.


  4. @Christian, really appreciate that helpful information. I have heard good things (anecdotal) about Shoretel's mobility solution.

    Does shoretel mobility currently have the ability to automatically switch to mobile voice network? (automatically, during a call? or automatically select at call initiation?)

    once again, thanks.