Wi-Fi calling: Completing the picture

Posted on September 30, 2014

Although it’s true that Wi-Fi calling from mobile operators has been around for a while, it’s been a niche offering. Of course there have been all the over-the-top services, like Skype, but we’ve seen very few fully transparent operator integrations which allow you to use your phone number.

All the hyperbole and revolutionary claims that we’ve seen in the wake of the T-Mobile and Apple announcements aside, I think that iOS8 could be the event that pushes us past the tipping point, just by driving more carriers to embrace it so that users just get it without having to make an effort. Kudos to T-Mo for believing in it and being able to position it as a disruption.

What’s fascinating about Wi-Fi calling going mainstream is that voice is actually the final frontier to Wi-Fi’s complete domination of our “phone experience.” On the data side all the services we embrace on our devices work fine over both cellular and Wi-Fi. In iOS, iMessage made it transparent to use data for texting too. In fact, Wi-Fi represents over 80% of data by volume and 90% of data by time.

But voice remained this disconnected (no pun intended) world where you had to have a cellular connection or go OTT. I personally got stuck with having to use a femtocell to get coverage in my house, despite the fact that I’ve got great Wi-Fi there.

There’s a big difference between “everything but voice on Wi-Fi” and “everything on Wi-Fi” and the picture is now complete.

There’s a lot being said about seamless handoff but I don’t think this really matters right now; Wi-Fi calling today is about the benefit of reliable coverage while you’re indoors or static. I can handle a few dropped calls if I move (goodness knows, I get that regardless on cellular!)

There’s always a ‘but’, though: While this is going to work well in homes or offices, it’s a different story in public spaces. To truly get the benefit of Wi-Fi calling, users need their phone to connect seamlessly wherever they are; to the amenity Wi-Fi which is now ubiquitous at the local cafe, bar, library, school, hotel, airport, etc. But I can’t see users getting the true benefit (or carriers, for that matter) while they’re still having to find and log into Wi-Fi manually. As long as that is the case, there is a risk that Wi-Fi calling will remain niche.

Given the effort that has gone into perfecting the core calling functionality it seems wasteful to ignore the connectivity that underpins it.

 

Can Carriers Adopt Agile Practices?

Posted on June 16, 2014

Recently I attended the Telecommunications Industry Association Network of the Future Conference in Dallas. The conference was well attended and featured a combination of informative keynotes and a series of lively panel discussions. I participated as a panelist for the 5G Networks track Carrier Aggregation Across Licensed and Unlicensed Spectrum. (I wrote about this in Read More

Monetizing the Entire Data Experience

New opportunities for telecom operators

Posted on June 2, 2014

It’s remarkable how well mobile operators navigated the challenge of massive growth in mobile data consumption. For a mammoth industry—oft criticized for slow movement—things moved extremely fast over the last two years. The big shift to shared data plans drove alignment of data growth with revenue growth, while the technology transition to LTE helped improve Read More

Carrier Aggregation over Unlicensed Spectrum

Posted on June 1, 2014

Recently I’ve been following the proposals to use unlicensed (i.e. Wi-Fi) spectrum to augment cellular capacity. The most prevalent camp proposes using LTE-Advanced carrier aggregation, introduced in 3GPP release 10, where the 5Ghz Wi-Fi bands are used for downlink data, and all other traffic, such as signaling, is ‘anchored’ on licensed spectrum. The 5Ghz unlicensed Read More

ANDSF Helps Enable an “Always Best Connected” Experience

Posted on April 11, 2014

ANDSF (The Access network discovery and selection function) has been around for a while now—ever since 3GPP Release 8. ANDSF allows a mobile network operator to define policies on how “non-3GPP” networks are accessed. (In reality, non-3GPP means Wi-Fi.) It defines three groups of information that can be sent to a handset: Inter-system mobility policy Read More

Hotspot 2.0 or Hotspot Oh.No: My Carrier Wi-Fi Experience at MWC

Posted on March 7, 2014

Wi-Fi—and its Carrier Wi-Fi subset—has become a critical component of mobile network operator strategy.  Carrier Wi-Fi has undergone several redefinitions, but the next generation vision focuses on Hotspot 2.0, also known as “Passpoint.” Theoretically, Hotspot 2.0 provides a seamless connection experience for smartphones by utilizing the SIM card for authentication and leveraging 802.11u to advertise Read More

Posted on February 21, 2014

Devicescape is excited to showcase it’s engagement services at Mobile World Congress 2014. Accessed through any of the over 20 million hotspots that make up Devicescape’s CVN, Popwifi aims to better connect individuals with the places they frequent most and gives them the ability to share what they love about a particular place with anyone Read More

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Curated Spot Check: Bucharest, Romania

Posted on January 26, 2014

A recent trip to Europe saw us in Bucharest for a Curated Spot Check. If you’ve seen earlier posts, you’ll know this is our way of doing an on-the-ground Wi-Fi assessment of our crowd-sourced curated Wi-Fi service. It involves field measurements, primary research, and data analysis of the Wi-Fi environment, so we can fine tune Read More

Black Friday 2013 – The Numbers Are In

Posted on December 9, 2013

Devicescape’s stats are in for the Black Friday and Thanksgiving week, and once again our users benefitted from high performance Wi-Fi connections in many top retail establishments while shopping for bargains. The numbers show big increases in Black Friday foot traffic at many U.S. merchants compared to normal levels. First, a quick note about the Read More

The Amenity Wi-Fi Owner’s Dilemma: Ease of Use Versus Compliance

Posted on December 3, 2013

Two common themes about publicly available Wi-Fi circulate constantly in the press:  security (for users), and abuse (by users).  I find these issues fascinating because they position users at opposite ends of the spectrum. There’s the hapless user whose secrets are being stolen, and there’s the terrorist/ identity thief whose using free (and supposedly anonymous) Read More