At a time when telecom operators look for better monetization opportunities, Wi-Fi driven calling can potentially help them create better market differentiation and also help in retaining customers.
Sanjay Kaul – Managing Director, Service Provider Sales,
Cisco India & SAARC speaks with Zia Askari from TelecomDrive.com about the importance of Wi-Fi Calling and future of telecom networks.
How mature are Wi-Fi calling applications from a technology standpoint? Can businesses rely upon it too?
The success of VoWiFi lies entirely in its ability to bridge the gap between a 4G/3G network-based voice service and a full-blown VoLTE (Voice over LTE) service. From an adoption point-of-view, MNOs and vendors need to demonstrate diverse deployment scenarios that highlight the potential economic and technology benefits of a VoWiFi solution.
There are various factors that are making VoWiFi Calling a reality, these include an increase in demand for better indoor coverage with less dependency on the operator and the proliferation of VoWiFi fuelled by mobile device OS platforms such as iOS and Android, as well as chipset manufacturers like Qualcomm.
For VoWi-Fi the biggest challenges are extending VoWiFi Calling clients to existing handset base, mobility and quality of service. And from a regulatory point-of-view it is the ability of service providers to track user location and restrictions pertaining to roaming.
In country like India, where Indoor Coverage is major problem, and Voice ARPU is lower, WiFi Calling becomes an important Business driver to reduce churn. The acceptability of WiFi Calling will happen gradually based on maturity of the technology with respect to device eco-system, better quality of backhaul / internet services, net neutrality.
While currently, Cisco is the leader in this space with extensive experience in Voice over Wi-Fi, the upcoming offerings include introduction of features that would improve VoWi-Fi experience on the WLAN Access Side, these are:
• Application Visibility and Control (AVC) for Wi-Fi Calling
• Call Admission and Control (CAC) for Wi-Fi Calling
• 802.11v – BSS Transition management
Cisco also provides end-to-end solution, which includes ePDG as Network Element, 3GPP-AAA, PGW, PCRF, ANDSF.
What is the big value proposition that Wi-Fi calling brings for the operator community?
The topline benefits that the operator community could derive from Wi-Fi calling are:
• Wi-Fi is a low cost solution to provide the coverage.
• Operators can rely on existing Wi-Fi networks and not necessarily need to invest in WiFi networks.
• It helps provide better indoor coverage that leads to reduction in churn and increase in stickiness of subscriber with the operator.
It enables operators to offer a competitive solution compared to current OTT players eating up roaming revenue.
Where do you think could be the biggest of the challenges in order to realize the full potential for their investments and become completely future ready?
The biggest challenges organizations face to fully utilize their investments and be future ready are:
• Choosing a partner and solution that would not evolve with the future requirements
• Failing to capture evolving trends and not aligning their network services roadmaps with the vendor roadmaps
• Retiring their older investments and failing to create an equipment roadmap to move out power hungry, less bandwidth delivering devices with more efficient ones
• Challenges collaborating with equipment vendors and ecosystem for features, and being away from standards bodies
How are you gearing up as an organization to provide future-ready, future-proof solutions to operators today?
At Cisco, we believe in predicting the needs of the networks and of the end users much earlier than what the industry thinks about. For example, we predicted the rise of Internet Protocol version 4 and 6, which have become the defacto protocols of today. We also predicted that voice will be free and people will pay for data and value added services, MPLS will be the choice for delivering VPN services, Ethernet will be the only layer 2 technology, Cloud will be the way to deliver services etc. many years ago before they became mainstream.
We are also able to predict the utilization of networks and demonstrate how SPs will be able to monetize it using our Visual Networking Index (VNI) and Monetization Optimization Index (MOI).
We also work closely with top operators from around the globe and use the macro and micro trends to create solutions;as a result, our products are capable of providing services that extend beyond their intended use periods. For instance, our older flagship product line the 7600s is still capable of addressing many of these services for over 15 years now. Our Metro Ethernet & MPLS solutions have been able to meet the newer services requirements by the MEF and IETF withlittle or no modification to the architecture.
At Cisco we believe in creating a platform and solutions with robust architectures thatallow our customers to harness its benefits for longer, thus adding to their profitability. The virtual and the physical elements which are used in these solutions will co-exist and there is a need to orchestrate the services. We are also leading the SDN, NFV and orchestration efforts helping in the standardization of the ODL, Openstack, protocols and with our Tail-F orchestrator & Wan Automation Engine (WAE) we are working with the operators to create new services and manage the multi vendor elements in their networks.
What according to you are the big opportunities that can take operators to a secure a better and profiting future tomorrow?
We see the emergence of Internet of Everything (IOE), Smart Cities, Big Data, any screen collaboration & video, WiFi everywhere and Security as the key areas where opportunities will arise.
Operators will have to look at new business models and work with a larger ecosystem to deploy these new services. Traditional models of services being available in days or months is passé, and agility to deploy on demand customizable services will create a differentiation that will help them improve their profitability.
We believe that the Digital India initiative will allow operators to offer cloud based services to SMBs, participate with municipal and city bodies as leads.It will also help create the next generation of entrepreneurs who can utilize their platforms to offer new solutions to the India’s Gen Z.