Apple’s support for Wi-Fi Calling in last year’s iPhone 6 helping to drive momentum
With at least ten wireless operators already offering native Wi-Fi Calling, the market is set to grow rapidly in the fourth quarter 2015, driven in part by support for the technology from Apple.
Unlike earlier versions of calling on Wi-Fi, native Wi-Fi Calling lets users make and receive calls and texts on their smartphones just as if they were on the mobile network, using the phone’s dialler and contact lists. Calls can handover between Wi-Fi and Voice over LTE (VoLTE) during the call for a seamless customer experience.
According to the Strategy Analytics Wireless Operator Strategies (WOS) service report, ‘Wi-Fi Calling Momentum Builds as Carriers Plan Voice Future’, Apple’s support for Wi-Fi Calling in last year’s iPhone 6 encouraged more operators to add the service capabilities to their networks and offer software upgrades for capable phones; certain models from Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and others. With 13 million new Wi-Fi Calling capable iPhones 6s and 6s+ just sold in the first weekend they were on sale, the number of wireless customers that can take advantage of Wi-Fi Calling is expanding rapidly.
T-Mobile US has been the leading global operator championing Wi-Fi Calling, taking advantage of Wi-Fi to improve customer experience for in-building calling and international roaming, enhancing its competitive position, said Strategy Analytics.
Around the globe, at least ten mobile operators have commercially launched native Wi-Fi Calling, including T-Mobile US and Sprint, EE and Vodafone in the UK, SmarTone and 3 in Hong Kong and Vodacom in South Africa.
Susan Welsh de Grimaldo, director, wireless operator strategies at Strategy Analytics, said: “Coverage and voice quality are still critical factors in selecting a wireless service provider. Because it offers better voice in more places, Wi-Fi Calling will move quickly from being a first mover differentiator to standard table stakes, a service that subscribers come to expect from their mobile service provider.”
While Strategy Analytics’ Sue Rudd, director wireless networks and platforms, commented: “Operators should take advantage of Wi-Fi and embrace it as a cost-effective, integral part of their network evolution to expand the footprint for VoLTE and HD enhanced voice services based on IP. Wi-Fi Calling is a highly efficient way to terminate VoLTE calls to non-VoLTE users.”