Carrier WiFi

Sprint Plans WiFi + Lync Enterprise Bundle

Sprint is expanding its WiFi calling strategy to the workplace with plans to launch an enterprise WiFi plus Microsoft Lync bundle as part of its upcoming Workplace-as-a-Service platform, Light Reading has learned.

A source close to the plans tells Light Reading that the operator will soon begin bundling WiFi access points and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s Lync unified communications service for those enterprises that use its mobile broadband network. The combo will allow enterprises to ditch their landlines and enable multimedia WiFi calling and chat over the Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) network and WiFi. Sprint plans to offer this bundle as a managed service, the source says.

The WiFi service will be part of Sprint's overall Workplace-as-a-Service (WPaaS) platform that it plans to officially launch soon. A Sprint spokesman would not comment on the details of it, but said the operator is in pre-sales mode with it and "has several business customers that are enjoying the benefits of the service and more in the pipeline."

Sprint's pre-sales website on WPaaS positions it as a complete starter package for someone looking to open an office, including Internet, WiFi, voice, text and data plans, audio and video conferencing, instant messaging, email, Intranet and cloud productivity apps -- everything but pizza.

Read more about WiFi strategies on the carrier WiFi channel here on Light Reading.

Both the enterprise and WiFi have been focal points for the carrier as it works to regain its footing in the US wireless market. It enabled WiFi calling for its customers last year, albeit without support for cellular handoff or for the iPhone. It has also blanketed its nationwide LTE network with HD voice, although has yet to outline a timeline for a voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) deployment. (See Sprint Selects Kineto for WiFi Calling, Taqua Lets Mobile Users Talk Over WiFi and Sprint's Hesse: HD Voice Goes Nationwide in July .)

The operator's updates helped it bump up to third place in RootMetrics 's network rankings, just beating T-Mobile US Inc. on overall performance, thanks in large part to its improved call and text performance.

On the enterprise front, Sprint has been working with Ruckus Wireless Inc. to provide managed WiFi to enterprises since 2013 and has announced past plans for enterprise small cells. The carrier also offers some productivity mobile applications and mobile device management for small and midsized businesses, so a broader managed services approach that ties it all together seems logical. (See Sprint Starts Big Enterprise Push With WiFi, Sprint, T-Mobile Test Ruckus's Refined VoWiFi and Sprint Plans Indoor, Outdoor Small Cells in 2014.)

— Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading

sarahthomas1011 2/11/2015 | 5:19:23 PM
Re: WiFi calling quality That functionality is already available. T-Mobile offers it and several Sprint MVNOs, like Scratch and Republic Wireless do. Sprint has chosen not to on the consumer front, but that could be a business decision as much as a technology one. I imagine it will have to on the business front to make it a compelling offer, even though most calls are likely done from the desk.
josemromero 2/11/2015 | 5:16:08 PM
Re: WiFi calling quality This sounds like a great service but I wonder what the user experience would be if you are on a business call and need to step outside the WiFi coverage. It would be ideal if the service would allow you to seamlessly connect to the standard voice network and continue your call withouth interruption. Any idea if this is in their roadmap?
sarahthomas1011 2/11/2015 | 12:14:31 PM
Re: WiFi calling quality I haven't seen any bundles for WiFi calling on the consumer side yet though. Both Sprint and T-Mobile offer it as a free, value-added service. 
Ariella 2/10/2015 | 4:42:46 PM
Re: WiFi calling quality @Sara In the consumer space, Verizon and its rivals tends to offer bundle packages with its WiFi. I'm sure there are business bundles, as well. Once one company does it, the others tend to follow.
sarahthomas1011 2/10/2015 | 2:32:16 PM
Re: WiFi calling quality Yes, I believe there are VoIP phones that integrate Lync, which will be important for that flexibility, as you point out. I'm a mobile only office, but I'm not a fan, mainly because of the quality of my mobile phone calls! 
Mitch Wagner 2/10/2015 | 2:19:37 PM
Re: WiFi calling quality Does Lync work with desktop VoIP phones, or is it strictly for smartphones and desktops? Because anecdotally, for all the talk about cord-cutting, office workers still love their desktop phones. 
sarahthomas1011 2/10/2015 | 1:02:04 PM
VoLTE It's not exactly a roadmap, but a reminder that VoLTE is in the works for Sprint. Cheif Network Officer John Saw posted a blog on the Root Metrics findings today, noting that "In addition, our expected transition to an all-IP-based platform will provide a path for deploying VoLTE and unlock new potential for services that delight our customers"

sarahthomas1011 2/10/2015 | 11:42:02 AM
WiFi calling quality This sounds like a cool, affordable service that would appeal to a lot of small businesses. It's a good idea for Sprint too -- offer a WiFi service, but require they are Sprint customers to use it. However, it speaks to the need for a really high-quality WiFi calling experience. Consumers can tolerate some dropped calls or bad connections, but businesses certainly can't.
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