The new trend of using wifi for voice calling has gained so much popularity lately. Almost overnight, callers have opted to use this operator-provided service to make regular phone calls and text messages from their SIM-based mobile phone number using a wifi network. To put it simply, voice over wifi allows phones with the capability to now work seamlessly when they're out of network but connected to wifi. The trend is extremely popular indoors due to the often poor cellular connectivity. However, with this new trend, the demand on the wireless network has increased significantly and without the necessary wireless infrastructure to sustain this new demand, everyone from schools, hospitals and businesses could find themselves struggling to keep up.
What is Wi-Fi Calling?
Wi-Fi calling allows cellular packets from your phone to be transferred to your carrier over the internet and injected back into the cellular network as if they'd been beamed over the air.
Let’s not confuse Wi-Fi calling with voice calling through apps such as Google Hangouts and Skype, which let you talk to other people using call forwarding or an internet-based interface.
Wi-Fi calling lets you use your actual phone number over the internet--you can even use your phone’s native dialer.
Wi-Fi calling is also different from VoIP technology, which lets you use an internet-connected phone exactly as you would a landline.
VoIP transfers your voice over the Internet to the switched telephone network, whereas wifi calling connects your voice to your mobile carrier's network using the Internet instead of cell towers.
The new system has a boatload of advantages for the consumer. It can help conserve plan minutes and texts, as calls over wifi don't count against your plan.
But, of course, the biggest upside to this is that you get to make uninterrupted calls that are not dependent on your network’s cellular coverage, like if you’re indoors or in a remote area.
Meanwhile, the attraction of VoWi-Fi is obvious for the mobile operator since the implementation is based on software and capabilities already in most new mobile devices.
They don’t have to worry about hardware (femtocells) that has to be shipped to their home, installed or paid for, and this potentially reduces the cost significantly. Moreover, it makes use of an existing wifi network that they don’t have to set up.
The Hard Numbers
VoWi-Fi calling is only growing in demand and that's mostly due to poor cellular quality and reliability as well as the fact that there are twice as many smartphone users who make voice calls and send texts indoors than outdoors.
In fact, according to an Ericsson Consumer Insight Summary Report for July 2015:
- Globally, just 4 in 10 are satisfied with their indoor cellular connectivity experience, and only 3 in 10 with voice call quality, coverage and reliability.
- The uninterrupted service drives satisfaction among 4 out of 5 existing Wi-Fi calling users.
- 61 percent claim they now make longer and more frequent voice calls
- 88 percent seek Wi-Fi whenever possible and 23 percent switch off their phones.
- 7 out of 10 users find wifi calling appealing and 77 percent will increase communication using Wi-Fi calling.
Is Your Wireless Network Ready?
The numbers don't lie, smartphone users (which is just about everyone) are increasingly looking to VoWi-Fi as a high-quality, seamless way to communicate. The issue is can your Wi-Fi support the Wi-Fi demand?
With more and more mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets already putting a strain on your wireless network's performance, voice over Wi-Fi only seems to be making the challenging even more difficult.
The only guaranteed method to successfully support the growing number of devices and your user's wireless expectations is to plan and plan some more.
You should take an in-depth look into your current wireless network to understand what's capable of and where it can improve. Try using tests such as application performance testing and site surveys to help guide your decisions.
If you don't have a centralized wireless management system in place you should highly consider it as it will allow you to not only streamline your processes and increase your network's efficiency but will also help you unlock a ton of valuable granular data that can be used to further optimize your wireless network.
The less favorable quality of voice calling indoors and the wide availability of Wi-Fi are key drivers of Wi-Fi calling adoption.
However, with the rise of voice over Wi-Fi calling, cell providers are putting a big strain on your wireless network.
In order to keep up with the demand, you'll need to make sure you have a plan in place. If you want to get ahead of the trend, simply contact us here, we'd love to help!