Carrier WiFi

Taqua, Interop Bring VoWiFi to Rural SPs

Taqua is already powering voice-over WiFi (VoWiFi) for two of the US's biggest wireless operators -- Sprint and T-Mobile -- but it is enlisting the help of Interop Technologies to reach the sizable population of small and rural carriers that want to offer calling over unlicensed spectrum as well.

The vendor announced on Monday that Interop Technologies will use its virtual mobile core and mobile client to offer VoWiFi and voice-over LTE (VoLTE) as a managed service to its customer base. Interop will integrate Taqua's software with its CorePlusX managed IMS core and IP services platform, which also includes VoLTE-roaming, RCS and policy control. (See Taqua Lets Mobile Users Talk Over WiFi.)

Interop is well connected with smaller carriers in the US, and Taqua LLC CMO Ken Kolderup says the partnership will greatly expand its reach. Kolderup joined Taqua as part of its acquisition of Kineto in December. The companies were providing complementary VoWiFi technologies for many of the same carriers -- Kineto counted T-Mobile US Inc. as a long-time customer, while both companies inked a deal with Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S). (See Taqua Acquires Kineto for VoWiFi Push, T-Mobile Turns Up VoLTE-to-WiFi Handoff and Sprint Selects Kineto for WiFi Calling.)

Both carriers are offering VoWiFi as a value-added service to improve their coverage and quality of calling. Kolderup says that rural carriers are interested in the tech for the same reason. They have perhaps even greater coverage issues, but they are also interested in VoWiFi as a way to reduce the roaming rates they pay to the larger operators in the US.

"For smaller rural operators, as soon as [customers] leave the town, they roam on to a larger partner network," Kolderup says. "That's a huge opex for in-country roaming, especially if a customers' house is serviced by a partner network."

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The pair are targeting operators that have yet to deploy IMS. Many smaller operators don't feel the pressure or can't make a business case to deploy VoLTE yet, Kolderup says, but they want to have VoWiFi now. Taqua's core can be deployed in pre-IMS networks with support for VoWiFi rapidly and cost effectively, he says, letting operators add support for IMS at a later date. It is also available as a mobile client to download on to current Android devices.

Taqua is in trial with a number of small telcos, including Nex-Tech Wireless, and expects many more to follow suit. Kolderup says he's seen a snowball effect in VoWiFi deployments over the past year, going from CTOs not wanting to talk about it because it entails admitting they had coverage problems, to them pushing their marketing departments to make it known they support the technology. This was, in large part, spurred by Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s support for the technology, announced in September. (See Apple's New iPhones Have 20 LTE Bands, VoLTE, Sprint, T-Mobile Test Ruckus's Refined VoWiFi, AT&T to Launch WiFi Calling in 2015, Radisys Helps Nokia Enable VoLTE and Genband, Nokia Team Up on VoWiFi.)

"A year ago it was a novelty versus today, it's a necessity," Kolderup says, adding that poor coverage is a real and costly problem. "The snowball effect is taking hold here. Everyone kind of got it, but now the pieces are in place."

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

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