By Vishal Mathur, Vice President – Solution Integration, Alepo Technologies
Mobile phones have become the primary indoor communications tool of consumers, with landline usage dropping dramatically over the past decade.
This has led to a new challenge for mobile operators as consumers make twice as many calls inside as they do outside. Around 60% of consumers are not satisfied with their indoor voice quality, which means majority of their calls are not up to the quality they expect.
A poor connection could lead a user to switch to another operator. The presence of WiFi, at almost every home and business allows providers to salvage and provide better indoor coverage for voice services through WiFi calling.
This keeps the customer in focus and makes WiFi calling a customer retention game for mobile operators. Offering WiFi services is probably the best bet for a mobile operator to protect their core business in a WiFi-centric world, which in turn reduces their churn rate when compared to the competition.
WiFi calling is also a great way for mobile network operators to build new revenue streams. By offering VoWiFi to their customers, operators instantly gain from the advantages of roaming on untrusted WiFi, increased international use, as well as in-flight VoWiFi calls. They can also offer WiFi calling as a value added service (VAS), either as a standalone add-on, or bundled into other packages.
If an operator has their own WiFi network they can reach a new market segment which was previously untapped, by offering access to casual users who aren’t current subscribers. These casual users can purchase one-time WiFi passes, and make calls if their devices support WiFi calling.
Apple’s inclusion of Wi-Fi calling in iOS 8 and the iPhone 6 and 6+ and its availability in the Samsung Galaxy series has provided the much needed impetus to the growth of WiFi calling services. The launch of WiFi calling by T-Mobile in 2014 in the US changed the business landscape for mobile providers.
All around the world, operators have been following T-Mobile’s lead. In South Africa, Vodacom announced that it made the first ever commercial voice over Wi-Fi (VoWiFi) call on June 4, 2015. The company launched Wi-Fi Calling in August 2015 and the services were made available across the Vodacom network.
Cell C offers their consumers a wide range of prepaid, hybrid and postpaid products and services including voice, data and messaging services. The company launched Wi-Fi Calling service to its entire customer base in October 2015.
T-Mobile showcased that WiFi calling has a place in a mobile operator’s offering. Instead of a threat, WiFi calling actually presents a unique opportunity for real innovation. T-Mobile’s move certainly secures WiFi’s position as a mainstream technology. The ubiquity of the iPhone, with its integrated WiFi, made mobile WiFi the norm for smartphone users, making WiFi calling an inevitable reality.
With more and more mobile device manufacturers including Wi-Fi calling capabilities in their products and major mobile carriers competing to offer Wi-Fi calls, now is a good time to take advantage of this disruptive technology.
A WiFi calling solution for the mobile network operator includes securely integrating the WiFi network and cellular mobile packet core network using IMS/TAS core elements and subscriber management and billing systems.