RCR Wireless Discusses WiFi Offload And Where The Carriers Stand

Martha Degrasse, editor of RCR Wireless News, recently hosted an RCR Insights discussion of WiFi offload for service providers.  This interesting conversation addressed how the carriers are using WiFi offload currently, what the future holds and why they are keeping mum on their WiFi strategy.  One of the reasons for keeping quiet (see the 17:51 mark), according to Claus Heading, CEO of Heading Consultants in Europe, is that by publicly mentioning a WiFi strategy the carriers would put themselves in an “extremely poor position in terms of lobbying for additional licensed spectrum“.  Heading goes on to say that despite the carriers reluctance to share on the topic of WiFi offload, most are adopting some form of offload strategy and while they may not be quick to say “we are going to go WiFi all the way”, according to Heading eventually that will happen simply due to the fact that there are copious amounts (500 mghz) of unlicensed spectrum to be used compared to the limited amount.  It was also mentioned later in the interview that Apple’s announcement to support WiFi calling will pressure the carriers to support WiFi for voice purposes and that already solutions combining WiFi calling and small cell technology are being used.  A site survey/ frequency study done on a MDU/ MTU building can explore the various voice solutions and guide the building owner to the best solution.  Request a site study of your property.

NMHC VP – mentions WiFi calling’s potential to solve indoor voice problem

Rick Haughey, VP of Technology for NMHC, recently penned an article for multifamilyexecutive.com that addresses the negative impact of spotty cell phone coverage on the multifamily industry and touches on some of the solutions to solve the problem.  Mr. Haughey mentions the dramatic increase in residents that are relying on cellular for their primary source of connectivity and how the carrier coverage simply does not support that.

Solutions mentioned include: Cell booster solutions (like CellBoost 1.0), Small Cell, hyrbid-DAS utilizing a donor antenna (like CellBoost 2.0), traditional DAS utilizing a base station, but we were thrilled to finally see the mention of WiFi calling in regards to the indoor voice coverage problem.  Haughey mentions how difficult it can be for building owners to sort through all the different solutions, what they can/ cannot do and what they cost, adding, “The potential for a “disruptive” technology, such as WiFi calling, to make any of these solutions only temporary poses yet another hurdle”!

Basically – Seamless WiFi calling, which is currently adopted by 2 of the 4 major carriers (T-Mobile and Sprint) is the most cost effective solution to the voice coverage problem.  Once Verizon/ AT&T support WiFi calling on their networks building owners will have a solution that costs a fraction of any other calling solution out there, helps generate revenue, allows for add-ons like wireless energy management, staff services, building automation and security and provides Internet access throughout their building.  WiFi calling is the answer building owners have been waiting for.

On a silly note…


Mr Haughey mentions the old Verizon “Can You Hear Me Now?” ads… funny, is it just me or did most of those ads take place outdoors?  Well, to be fair I just watched a compilation “Test Launch” video with the “Can You Hear Me Now?” man and he was shown popping out of man hole in the road, in the mountains, in a swamp, on the road and in the dessert.  Only one scene showed him inside…. now that’s foreshadowing!  Check the 2009 ad out here.

The point is, the cellular carriers did not develop their networks for capacity – they are built for geographic coverage.  That is why you can look at a Verizon map that shows red over most of the U.S. yet can still not get signal in a city building.  Add that to green building construction, like Low-E glass blocking cellular signal and it’s a recipe for cellular disaster.

Managed WiFi Increases Building Owner Revenue

leadinglandlord.com, an online news outlet, recently looked at how building owners are using property-wide WiFi to generate revenue…

(You will be surprised by some of the out-of-the-box ideas!)

The multifamily industry is starting to view WiFi as the revenue generating opportunity that it is. Often managed property-wide WiFiis seen as a necessary expense, but the financial benefit to both the building owners and their tenants is real.


Number 2 on the list is “Cut tenants’ monthly phone bill” – they should also mention “Provide an avenue to indoor voice coverage where residents can’t get cellular service”.  The “WiFi First” philosophy (which new carriers like Republic Wireless and Scratch Wireless are adopting) says that 80% of smartphone use occurs in areas with available WiFi.  This means that only 20% really needs to be used on cellular.  Your residents are paying an arm and a leg for plans with high data, often when they don’t even get adequate voice service in their apartments. By providing residents with managed property-wide WiFi they can drastically lower their monthly phone bill while you provide them with an avenue for WiFi calling, be it through their T-Mobile or Sprint service or via an OTT app like Skype.


The WiFi First philosophy adopted by companies like Scratch Wireless. Img: http://www.scratchwireless.com/


Number 1 and Number 3: When you provide WiFi to your residents they save big not having to pay monthly to an ISP.  And the TV streaming revolution with Roku, NetFlix, Amazon Prime, etc allows your residents to completely cut the cable cord.

Clearly, property-wide WiFi puts you at a significant competitive advantage.  What does this mean for you?  More residents and more leases.

The majority of building owners choose to build the monthly cost of providing WiFi into a higher rent, but a managed provider, like Spot On, will also bill your residents for you if you chose to charge for the service.

Additional revenue stream ideas mentioned in the article:

Leadinglandlord.com almost mentions “out-of-the-box” revenue generators such as renting Roku boxes to residents or renting out “WiFi First” phones from companies like Republic or Scratch Wireless.  These offerings allow your residents to save big on monthly expenses.

FCC wags finger at Verizon’s Throttling Defense

Tom Wheeler, the Chairman of the FCC wasn’t at all impressed with the response from Verizon regarding their company policy to reduce the bandwidth of it’s heaviest data users.

“‘All the kids do it’ is something that never worked with me when I was growing up, and it didn’t work my kids,” said Wheeler in a stinging response letter sent to Verizon this month. 

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler
Marguerite Reardon/CNET

Verizon’s response stipulated that controlling bandwidth wasn’t a way to control how much data a 4G LTE customer uses, but simply network optimization practice to help alleviate network congestion. Verizon also stated that this was a common practice of all the wireless carriers, not just their own. Verizon also stated that FCC’s letter from the Chairman leads them to believe that the Mr. Wheeler wasn’t understanding Verizon’s intentions and claimed that the difference between throttling and network optimization is Network Intelligence.

Verizon’s policies lead some to believe that the communication giant is attempting to get “grandfathered” data plan user to switch to the tiered plan system.



Cheng, Roger . “FCC chairman rejects Verizon’s throttling defense – CNET.”CNET. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Aug. 2014. CLICK HERE TO READ FULL ARTICLE

Webinar answers building owners managers questions about WiFi Calling


Spot On Networks held a webinar Wednesday, August 13 @ 1:00 PM EST. on WiFi Calling and how it can improve cellular use in multi-dwelling units. With a full audience of participants, the speakers Dick Sherwin, Chief Executive Office at Spot On Networks (SON), Tom Doyle , President and Chief Operations Officer at Spot On Networks (SON) and Galen Dove, Network Development Engineer discussed the following topics:

  • Problems Facing the MDU Building Owner/Developer
  • The Evolution of WiFi Calling
  • How WiFi Calling Works
  • The Impact on MDUs and MTUs
  • The Carriers & The Operating Systems
  • Preparing for WiFi Calling

Issues such as Geographic-based Coverage VS. Capacity/User-based Coverage highlighted the need for micro-cell vs macro-cells infrastructure inside of building to address the green building material problems that drastically affect how much signal makes it inside the building. Cost and maintenance topics were addressed to illustrated how easy and inexpensive the WiFi solution is compared to any of the other solutions available today on the market.

This webinar lays out a host solutions that can improve the bottom line for building owners and managers, but also improve the customer satisfaction and increase and cement brand loyalty that residents may otherwise lose due to poor cellular signal inside of their residences.


WiFi Backscatter can connect everything

Sci-fi movies, long ago, promised us a future where all of our high and low-powered electronics would connect with one another through a “magical” system of communication transmitted through the air. Fast forward to 2014 – The Future is here! WiFi backscatter is a way to connect devices without batteries to the internet. Imagine your smart watch monitoring your heart rate and updating your doctor. Or your home or office thermostat working with sensors placed around your office to help you conserve energy!

Internet_of_ThingsThe foundation of this technology is based on harnessing the radio waves flying through the air to harvest energy to power these sensors. The application is limitless. Bridges can now be outfitted with sensors to help maintenance crews keep tabs on the structural integrity. Healthcare professionals can get real time readings on their patients. The possibilities a limitless.

With billions of devices that can benefit from this technology, the Internet Of Things, as it’s referred to can allow us to live a more connected and informed lives that can not only improve our quality of living, it can lead to amazing scientific breakthroughs that were previously considered out of reach.

With a range of 2 meters at 1kB per second. Researchers plan to expand the reach to 20 meters.  The University of Washington Commercialization Gap Fund, the Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship, Washington Research Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the University of Washington supported the work.


Ma-Washington, Michelle. “Wi-Fi backscatter could make ‘Internet of Things’ real – Futurity.” Futurity. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Aug. 2014. 


“Internet of Things” by Wilgengebroed on Flickr – Cropped and sign removed from Internet of things signed by the author.jpg. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Internet_of_Things.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Internet_of_Things.jpg

WiFi Offload Numbers Still Increasing- Even With Carrier LTE

infographic--wifiThe carrier networks continue to be a step behind our ever growing data habits.  LTE enthusiasts were hopeful that with the introduction and expansion of LTE, WiFi usage and need would decrease due to the increased capacity and performance of LTE vs. 3G.  This simply has not been proven to be the case.  Mobidia, which specialises in mobile usage data, has just released insights showing that WiFi offload has not lessened and has not plateaued.  WiFi usage is growing “just as fast, or even faster,” that LTE mobile broadband use.  In Hong Kong, for example, LTE users consumed 100% more mobile broadband than 3G users and, “their WiFi usage tended to stay in proportion and in fact remains the primary means of connectivity for LTE subscribers, still representing between 75-90% of all mobile data consumed”.

So why is this?  How does it make sense that the LTE network that carriers have spent billions on is still not cutting it for subscribers? It’s simple – cell data consumption increases trigger a proportional increase in WiFi consumption (as proven by the Mobidia data).  Data usage grows exponentially,  month by month.  Subscribers get in the habit of using data gobbling applications – and the amount of data used by applications is also increasing exponentially.

With carrier’s charging an arm and a leg for data it makes sense that subscribers want to offload to WiFi as much as possible… especially their most data-sucking applications. In fact, when it comes to WiFi offload and WiFi voice usage for smartphone users, some MVNOs, like Scratch Wireless  are creating their business model on the WiFiFirst™ theory which states that estimates 80% of smartphone usage time occurs in areas that are WiFi accessible (home, office, etc) and only 20% is only accessible via the cellular networks.   Click here to read more about the Mobidia data. Does your property need managed WiFi?  Contact us first!

Is Verizon WiFi Calling Coming Sooner Than We Thought?

This just in! Verizon has signed a deal with Smith Micro to use the company’s NetWise product for an undisclosed service…. and this is HUGE news.  Companies like Kineto (utilized by Sprint for WiFi calling) and Smith Micro market applications that can be integrated with a phone’s firmware to allow devices to choose and manage network connections (3G, 4G, WiFi).  Smith Micro’s NetWise product uses policies on a device to manage all data connections to choose the best connection.

Verizon has not yet answered questions as to what their plans for NetWise are and Smith Micro’s CEO, William Smith, declined to provide many details on the deal save to say, “We were recently selected by Verizon to work on the project utilizing the NetWise platform,” he went on to add, “we are finalizing deals now with two other Tier 1 operators, including one project with an end-to-end middleware platform and another for dynamic policy management platform”.  As T-Mobile and Sprint both currently offer WiFi calling – it is being widely speculated that Verizon and another Tier 1 operator (keep in mind there are only four – so you can fill in the blank :) ) are on the road to offer WiFi calling.

For the last couple of months we have predicted that WiFi calling would soon be supported by more major carriers in addition to Sprint and T-Mobile, especially with Apple’s World Wide Developers conference that iOS 8 would include WiFi calling for the iPhone.  This Smith Micro announcement has it appearing that additional carrier support may be coming even sooner than we would hope for!

With all of the news on the WiFi calling front, it is imperative that MDU/ MTU properties have a managed property-wide WiFi network in place that can support property-wide WiFi calling.  A managed WiFi network is essential to using property-wide WiFi calling as personal WiFi networks do not have the QOS and coordinated frequency plan necessary to ensure a good experience.


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