Wi-Fi is calling. Are CSPs listening?

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Communication service providers are leading the digital transformation but also have to calibrate business strategies as per evolving trends. Voice is alive but the mobile voice revenues are declining in the highly competitive mobile industry. Data revenues are increasing, but they may not be able to offset the loss in voice revenues. While a few mobile carriers are only concerned about the tag of ‘dumb pipe’, others are actively changing the voice game with new services like Wi-Fi Calling. Acceptance of Wi-Fi calling is growing around the world and operators are deploying solutions to address the needs of subscribers. Wi-Fi calling is not based on geographic location, meaning, any Wi-Fi access point in the world is essentially treated as a cellular base station and it transforms a Wi-Fi hub into a mobile tower and acts as an extension to operator network. These so-called mobile towers extend CSPs network without incurring additional costs of deployment and operation. There’s an interesting paradox that Wi-Fi is now being used to extend cellular services into hard to reach places where signals are weak, such as rural areas and basements; while so-called “Wi-Fi first” services such as Project Fi, FreedomPop and Republic Wireless use cellular signals as a complement to Wi-Fi. Both Wi-Fi calling providers and Wi-Fi-first operators advertise seamless hand-offs between the two wireless domains. Rethink Technology Research found that almost 90% of MNOs, and over 70% of MSOs, planned to deploy Wi-Fi Calling between 2015 and 2020. By 2020, despite near-ubiquitous LTE and VoLTE population coverage in some developed markets, almost 90% of mobile operators will nevertheless be offering Wi-Fi Calling too The biggest challenge for VoWi-Fi will be seamless handover without compromising on quality of service.  While it depends on network deployed by third-party Wi-Fi providers, operators may be responsible for poor QoS leading to customer dissatisfaction. Security issues may arise if Wi-Fi network is not secure. Operators are required to authenticate & encrypt user information and frequently utilized IPSec must be implemented and managed. The quality of voice service is guaranteed with 3GPP radio standards. One way to improve QoS/QoE is to use “carrier-grade” Wi-Fi infrastructure based on IEEE 802.11 Standards, which has features and capabilities not found in traditional consumer grade Wi-Fi Access Points. By the end of 2017, carrier-grade access points will start to increase exponentially and by 2020, more than 90% of hotspots will be carrier grade (Source: Maravedis) Wi-Fi calling has been widely accepted globally due to its inherent advantages and as a result 46 operators globally have gained momentum. They have rolled out Wi-Fi calling and launched it as a service (Source: GSMA), considering the major driving factors and benefits as below:
  • For mobile operators, Wi-Fi calling is one of the ways to offload traffic from cellular, thereby reducing the need to buy more infrastructure and cellular spectrum
  • It offers voice roaming for users who want a low-cost alternative to cellular roaming
  • A good option for revenue enhancement – A save off against OTT players taking away the revenue pie for voice
  • A solution for indoor coverage concern thus reduces churn and increase customer base
  • Potential Line of Business (LoB) can be a great business model for Small cell providers, CSPs, Cable MSOs, Smart Cities
  • Better customer experience with seamless call handover between VoWi-Fi and VoLTE
With Sterlite Tech – Elitecore’s pre-integrated and modular platform, along with the largest vendor interoperability, Wi-Fi SMP is capable to support the Wi-Fi Calling business segment for the MNOs and MVNOs. Sterlite Tech – Elitecore offers a comprehensive Service Management Platform (SMP) for Wi-Fi that enables MNOs / MVNOs to drive a converged solution for Wi-Fi Calling. Click here for more information

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