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Carrier WiFi

WiFi Calling Catches on Globally

Voice-over-WiFi vendor Taqua has signed up several new channel partners in the past few months as WiFi calling begins to spread beyond North America and the UK to the rest of the globe.

Early VoWiFi action came from operators like T-Mobile US Inc. and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), which were using it to improve coverage indoors, and from EE , eager to leverage its existing large WiFi footprint. New launches, however, may soon start to come from growth markets like Asia, the Middle East and Europe. (See EE Hopes WiFi Calling Will Hit the Spot, T-Mobile Turns Up VoLTE-to-WiFi Handoff and Sprint Selects Kineto for WiFi Calling.)

Taqua LLC is announcing tomorrow that it has signed deals in all three of those regions with systems integrators and partners that will resell its Virtual Mobile Core and Mobile client platforms that enable VoWiFi and voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) over their existing infrastructure. This comes a few months after it signed a deal with Interop Technologies to target operators in rural America as well. (See Taqua, Interop Bring VoWiFi to Rural SPs and Taqua Lets Mobile Users Talk Over WiFi.)

The new partners include PT. Lintas Teknologi Indonesia; CommLogik and Ledefyl, both of which serve Latin America; JSC Indochina Telecommunication Technology in Southeast Asia; Bynet Data Communications in Israel; and TCRP, which serves mobile and fixed operators in the Caribbean, Brazil, Mexico and Latin America.


For more on the VoWiFi and VoLTE, visit the dedicated rich communications content section here on Light Reading.


Mobile data services provider Aptilo Networks AB , which also supports VoWiFi deployments for carriers including T-Mobile, sees traction picking up across the globe as well. The Swedish company's new CEO Paul Mikkelsen recently told Light Reading that the company is in discussions with wireless and fixed operators, as well as cable companies, that are interested in leveraging their customers' existing in-home WiFi to offer voice calling. (See Google's WiFi-First Mobile Service 'Fi' Is Here, Comcast Weighs WiFi Plans and Cablevision's New WiFi Try – Freewheeling Enough?)

"In 2016 to 2017, a lot of our growth will come from voice-over-WiFi projects that don't have to do with deploying [operators'] own WiFi, but to fix bad indoor coverage with existing WiFi," Mikkelsen says. "That's an area where operators globally are struggling."

The entire small cell industry is meant to address that problem, the CEO adds, but he doesn't see small cells catching on as fast as many hoped because operators are looking to the unlicensed bands instead. "A lot of operators have come to the conclusion that if I can use existing WiFi deployed indoors to enable VoWiFi, I might be able to get away with less investment from an indoor and small cell coverage point of view," he says. (See Verizon Scales Up Small Cells, AT&T Cuts Back and T-Mobile Plans Small Cells as Niche Play.)

Mikkelsen said to expect more VoWiFi launches in the UK in the first half of 2016, and he expects mature markets where operators have indoor coverage challenges to continue to take off first. Combine that with Taqua's progress in Asia, the Middle East and Europe; Mavenir Systems Inc. 's promise of a cable customer launch this year and the fact that AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) said it will launch in 2015, and it's clear the WiFi calling movement is just getting started. (See Mavenir, T-Mobile Confirm US RCS Launches , 3 UK to Launch VoLTE by September and AT&T to Launch WiFi Calling in 2015.)

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

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Kruz 6/25/2015 | 9:27:18 AM
Re: An avenue for new entrants While it is clear that convenience is were Wifi Calling will improve offering native calling, it will come at a price versus a free, good quality alternative offered by global players. Whatsapp has a huge penetration and people can call freely(for now) and on the go. With a relatively slower deployment rate when compared to OTT, Wifi Calling will remain a convenience to cover blackhauls rather than a revenue generator.

What about its implications while a user is roaming? 
brooks7 6/24/2015 | 11:43:09 AM
Re: An avenue for new entrants Mohsin,

The one comment about native numbers and the like.  There are companies (Vonage as an example) which produce mobile apps for phones for VoIP.  This would allow somebody to keep their mobile and have distinct home and work numbers.

I agree with your commentary that there are lots of grey here.  There was plenty of commentary that this would be great for people that are just starting out in the mobile business.  My point was (and is) that there is an existing market for the service.  The market is changing and many of the existing cellular players are some of the early participants (particularly T-mobile).  I agree that handsets were a huge problem as for a long time it was hard to find good smartphones with WiFi calling (or UMA).

seven

 
mhhf1ve 6/24/2015 | 11:23:15 AM
Re: An avenue for new entrants I think vowifi is more of a game changer for mvnos that benefit from users who are wifi first users -- eg freedompop or google fi subscribers.
mohsin.sohail 6/24/2015 | 11:05:06 AM
Re: An avenue for new entrants Correct. However some points which make the situation a bit more gray and the market set for a disruptice change ( or possibly convergance into larger carriers and elimation of all the OTT ):

 

1. Skype, Tango, Viber etc require the user to not use the native dialer and instead use a different ecosystem - its somewhat of an inconveniance. Although, Iused the term OTT - but I was more refering to the fact of making native PSTN calls "over the Top" of a facilities provider ( Cable, WISP, Mobile carrier etc ).

2. Using the Native Dialer on the Phone (instead of an app) and also to use your own existing PSTN number (using the PSTN term a bit loosely here ) is attractive which is what VoWIFI offers.

3. Due to Point number 2 - this does cause the ILEC/CLEC/facilities based providers ( like the carriers ) to become even more entrenched in the voice calling business. Although it does create some new business models for ISPs . One might argue this creates further barriers to entry for new players!

4. UMA ( or GAN )  has been around for some time ( 3GPP Release 6 - 2004 ) - but its penetration was very lackiong due to many factors ( compliant handsets, WiFi Overlays, cost-effective QoS etc ). Its only after Apple and Samsungs compliant VoWiFi handsets ( and very well overlays of WiFi ) that things have started changing now.

 

Mohsin
Member(F74663 6/24/2015 | 10:24:53 AM
What About Google's ProjectFI? Google's new MVNO "ProjectFI" includes WiFi calling as well.  
Ariella 6/24/2015 | 10:20:36 AM
Re: Do customers really care that much about this feature? <In general I think people will care A LOT when they don't need to exit a building to take a call and especially when they no longer exit a building to find they have a missed call. >

@Ray I agree. I remember my first cell phone didn't function within my house. If I took a call there, I'd have to go to the doorway.
brooks7 6/24/2015 | 9:33:21 AM
Re: An avenue for new entrants Every ISP can already become a VoIP provider and UMA has been around for a decade.  So in terms of market change I see this as a small thing.  Especially since in the US the people with the capability or have announced the capability are all the existing wireless carriers.

On top of that, people have been using VoWiFi for years in ways that do not line up with their cell number...Skype for example.

seven

 
mohsin.sohail 6/24/2015 | 8:49:29 AM
An avenue for new entrants Maybe VoWiFi is a new avenue for prospective entrants into the "Voice Calling" business ( whether its OTT, or augmenting existing products with a VOIP offering etc ). WIth handsets accomodating for this ( iPhone, Samsungs S ) maybe every Internet Service Provider ( like Cable or WISPs ) could also become a Phone provider too.

SO the question is - does this reduce the barrier to entry into the "Voice Calling" business too?
[email protected] 6/24/2015 | 3:21:35 AM
Switzerland too Swisscom is planning to follow up its VoLTE launch with WiFi calling in the coming months , as reported in a Eurobites roundup recently

Eurobites June 10 
[email protected] 6/24/2015 | 3:19:02 AM
Re: Do customers really care that much about this feature? In general I think people will care A LOT when they don't need to exit a building to take a call and especially when they no longer exit a building to find they have a missed call. 

Voice is still the #1 app IMHO and it is amazing how many urban spots still lack decent/any voice coverage in what are supposed to be mature service areas -- in recent months I have been unable to get a voice signal in both London and New York City in 'high human traffic' areas.

VoWiFi - bring it on. Or indoor cellular small cell deployments. Anything... 
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