WiFi calling isn’t a new technology, and a variety of applications have provided WiFi calling capability for the past several years. Programs like Skype have offered WiFi calling to computer users over their phone lines, as well as to mobile users on WiFi networks.
The drawback thus far regarding WiFi calling has been the loss of control during the use of the applications. In addition, implementing initiatives like UMA or femtocells has not been cost-effective for the average business.
Many providers of voice calling services have resisted the opportunity to utilize WiFi calling because of an assumed reduction of revenue. However, that issue has become less of a stumbling block in recent years as communications have moved toward a highly mobile environment.
WiFi Calling Access and Coverage
Many mobile, tablet and computer users already use WiFi for the majority of their data and communications needs. Some estimates suggest as much as 80% of all data connected to mobile plans is utilizing WiFi networks. A significant portion of that traffic is coming from connections made to home wireless networks.
One of the emerging benefits of the widespread availability of WiFi networks has been the near-universal coverage of networks beyond the reach of cellular networks. There is the expectation that mobile operators could offer better overall coverage by utilizing WiFi calling.
Although Voice over WiFi solutions has been around for many years (usually abbreviated as VoWiFi), the type of WiFi calling that has been getting increased attention in recent years is a type of next-generation Wi-Fi calling.
Some of the newest smartphones, including the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, have begun offering the seamless experience of a phone capable of moving between LTE and WiFi networks without any interruption.
Benefits of WiFi Calling & Cost Savings
One of the benefits to the consumer of next-generation WiFi calling is that the technology eliminates the need for the user to check whether he or she is connected to an LTE or Wi-Fi network. The seamless integration of the connection from one type to another means voice calls and text communications will work at any time.
A few interesting benefits of WiFi calling to the end-user include:
- Minimal roaming charges because of increased use of WiFi networks
- Seamless call transfer when a user switches between WiFi and LTE networks
- Enhanced coverage indoors with WiFi calling availability
- Voice services available over any type of network from home to office to hotspots
- A simple and uniform voice dialer on the phone
Benefits offered to operators include:
- A similar infrastructure to IMS-based VoLTE
- Low cost to initiate because of existing Wi-Fi networks
- Reduce the need for users to employ apps like Skype
- A low-cost option for improving voice coverage
- Improved coverage in modern buildings with “radio tight” issues
Overall, the benefits of WiFi calling are significant for operators and users; however, there are some issues that may develop regarding Quality of Service (QoS). Traffic may travel over networks that the provider might not necessarily have complete control over, and this means calling is impacted by network problems that the provider might not have any way to fix.
While this control issue is a concern today, there is the expectation that future networks will offer better capacity. Increased capacity for today’s WiFi networks means network issues and QoS problems will not prove to be common or challenging for users or operators in the future.
Further, since LTE coverage is not 100%, it’s likely that even a Wi-Fi network that may not be 100% reliable will offer better overall coverage than a spotty LTE network. Another issue that may impact WiFi calling more today than it will in the future is the difficulty emergency service operators can have when a caller uses WiFi calling.
Fortunately, there are some solutions in the works that will likely improve location tracking information when a user employs WiFi calling.
Improve Mobile Coverage with VoWiFi
Do you have questions about deploying a VoWiFi service? Contact WiFi Calling, sponsored by Taqua, for more information about improving your mobile coverage with Taqua’s Virtual Mobile Core and VoWiFi app.