Wi-Fi has a couple of things going for it: There is a lot of it and it’s free. Those qualities may be enough, over time, to elevate voice over Wi-Fi (VoWiFi) from a relatively limited offering to a mainstream and perhaps even dominant voice service.
Last week, I wrote about changes in the cellular voice sector. That post focused on voice over LTE (VoLTE), which is changing drastically. I made one mention of VoWiFi in the post, that Kineto, a company that makes VoWiFi user device software, had acquired Taqua, a firm that works in the core of the network. That announcement was one of several recently made in the VoWiFi sector.
Gigaom reported that AT&T CEO and President Ralph de la Vega said at a Goldman Sachs Conference that the carrier will roll out VoWiFi in 2015. Taking advantage of the strengths of cellular and wireless networks and using those differences in a synergistic manner is a potent thing. It has to be done correctly, however:
The carrier will surely test the service to provide a seamless handoff for calls between its cellular network and Wi-Fi. AT&T is also in the midst of expanding a similar effort by transmitting voice calls over LTE data lines: It started a rollout of VoLTE in May but only in a few markets and with a single supported handset.
PCMag notes that T-Mobile was an early proponent of voice over Wi-Fi and that the company is upping its game. Subscribers have had access to the approach for a decade. Now, the carrier is improving quality and features.
In its “UnCarrier 7.0” announcement last week, T-Mobile said that its existing VoWiFi service will be upgraded to provide HD voice. The platform will be able to hand off calls to and from Android, iOS and the two new iPhones, according to the PC Mag story. The system will use the Asus “T-Mobile Personal CellSpot” Wi-Fi router that will prioritize voice traffic.
A fourth recent announcement was made late last month. According to 9to5 Mac, Sprint introduced international Wi-Fi calling. The plan allows subscribers to call the U.S. from more than 100 countries without extra fees. Subscribers with the Samsung Galaxy S4 can get the functionality via an over-the-air software upgrade. More phones will gain the feature during the coming months.
There is a tremendous amount of innovation in the wireless and cellular voice sectors. The result will be better sounding calls, fuller coverage and, perhaps, cheaper services.
Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at email@example.com and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.