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.
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, , Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading