The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) published a whitepaper this week (29 June 2016) outlining the opportunities Wi-Fi calling presents for mobile operators, mobile broadband service providers and consumers.
The paper discusses ‘the significant role Wi-Fi calling can play in addressing industry issues such as coverage’, as well as highlighting the gaps in the market to help promote the deployment, use and growing momentum of Wi-Fi calling.
Wi-Fi calling is going mainstream globally, the WBA argues, creating a wide range of opportunities that were previously not commercially viable or technically possible. While 80% of voice calls take place indoors, poor indoor cellular coverage is cited as the top complaint by customers. The rise in technologies that use unlicensed spectrum for mobile communications is unleashing exciting opportunities for operators.
Wi-Fi calling can offer coverage extension when cellular network signals cannot reach the customer, indoors and elsewhere. It can also act more efficiently than its more expensive counterpoints, like small cells and DAS, to deliver a ‘Universal Wireless Service’ to consumers that have access to Wi-Fi networks.
“Interest in Wi-Fi calling is rapidly growing due to changing market dynamics, customer expectations and VoLTE deployment. It’s increasingly becoming clear that it is no longer a case of if operators will deploy Wi-Fi calling, it’s a matter of when,” said Shrikant Shenwai, CEO of the Wireless Broadband Alliance.
“There is therefore an enormous opportunity for mobile operators to capitalize on hundreds of millions of readily available Wi-Fi Access Points to offer Wi-Fi calling service and to provide the coverage that customers increasingly expect. With our expertise and experience, we want to help create best practices and ultimately drive the next wireless experience for people all around the world.”
According to the WBA, the key business drivers and market opportunities Wi-Fi calling presents include:
- Wi-Fi calling offers huge CapEx and OpEx savings and is a customer retention tool for mobile operators
- VoWi-Fi will be a key component of 5G to deliver converged services over any access networks
- Wi-Fi calling enables Multiple System Operators (MSOs) to leverage Wi-Fi networks to offer their wireless services
- VoWi-Fi complements VoLTE as it uses the same IMS core and reuses VoLTE investment and devices.
The WBA will be initiating the development of an end-to-end Wi-Fi calling specification, as well as standards, certification and trials for the industry, to enable operators to deliver a scalable, reliable and standard-based solution. This will help to significantly improve Wi-Fi calling enablement and usage, as well as help to bring VoWiFi to the same equivalency as VoLTE.
The full white paper, entitled ‘Wi-Fi Calling: Opportunities and Challenges towards 5G’, is available to download here.