maintenance staff must supplement the Wi-Fi phones with cell phones because maintenance staff work at the district level and travel from school to school.

"One of the problems with the wireless IP phones is that you actually have to be in the building for them to work. They don't work when you're driving down the street or when you're at the hardware store picking up supplies."

Auker said the district would look into replacing the district's cellular phones with cell phones capable of switching to Wi-Fi-based VoIP when they become available.

Hybrid phones capable of switching from a Wi-Fi network to a cellular environment and vice versa are just hitting the market, and are not yet widely available. Some say acceptance from cellular providers may be slow because providers would have to give up revenue to local VoIP environments.

"It will be tough for service providers to make a business case around this technology, as it would require giving up their revenue to a LAN environment by providing an end point," said Cisco's Childs, "but it will be a model providers will have to address."

Though cellular providers may not warmly receive the technology, hybrid phones may force their way into the market as providers vying for market share struggle to remain competitive. Some cellular providers are already looking into incorporating the technology, according to news reports, and VoIP over Wi-Fi implementations at the local level may give cellular providers reason to support wireless VoIP.

Rio Rancho, N.M., recently worked out an agreement with Azulstar Networks to implement a citywide Wi-Fi network, which will support wireless VoIP. Soon, Azulstar's broadband wireless customers will also be able to opt for wireless VoIP service in Grand Haven, Mich.

Emily Montandon  |  Staff Writer/Copy Editor