AT&T Announces WiFi Calling on Android Devices

AT&T Android users can finally rejoice – AT&T began to roll out WiFi Calling to Android devices this week, beginning with the LG G4.  AT&T first released WiFi Calling for the iPhone last fall, after T-Mobile and Sprint.  Verizon support for WiFi calling soon followed.  Despite support for WiFi calling from the four major cellular carriers, one thing had been lacking – AT&T’s support for WiFi Calling on Android voices.  Now that the four majors all support WiFi Calling on both iPhone and Android, WiFi Calling can truly be considered as a real alternative to cellular in the multifamily housing market.

For an industry plagued by indoor cellular problems, WiFi Calling has been a godsend as it offers a reliable alternative to voice at a fraction of a cost of other in-building voice solutions.  In addition, the WiFi network that provides voice is the same physical network that residents use for community-wide WiFi Internet.  When it comes to WiFi that is to be used for in-building voice, it is essential that building owners use a WiFi provider that uses QOS, voice packet prioritization and that fully manages and monitors the network 24/7.

Spot On Networks, LLC. CEO, Richard J. Sherwin, To Be Inducted Into The Wireless Hall of Fame in 2016

Senate Judiciary Cmte Holds Hearing On Comcast-Time Warner Cable Merger

Spot On Networks CEO, Richard J. Sherwin Testifies for the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing On Comcast-Time Warner Cable Merger

For Immediate Release

New Haven, CT: June 15, 2016 – The Wireless History Foundation has announced their 2016 inductees to The Wireless Hall of Fame, including Spot On Networks CEO, Richard J. “Dick” Sherwin. Dick is being as inducted into The Wireless Hall of Fame as a “Pioneer” to the wireless industry, one of four inductee categories for 2016. The 2016 inductees will be honored by industry leaders and veterans at The Four Seasons Hotel in Las Vegas in September.

From The Wireless History Foundation website release:

“These are accomplished individuals whose achievements have made possible the diverse, competitive and robust wireless services we know today,” said WHF Board member Rob Mechaley, CEO of MobileSphere Holdings and chairman of the 2016 selection committee. “We are privileged to induct them into the Wireless Hall of Fame.”

Richard J. “Dick” Sherwin was a senior vice president of Graphic Scanning during the formative years of the non-wireline cellular industry.  At a critical time in the birth of the cellular industry, old rivalries and distrust could have impeded the ability of non-wireline applicants to reach market-wide settlements and avoid hearings and lotteries that would have significantly delayed competitive wireless services. Dick’s determination and honesty won over adversaries and his efforts were key elements in the formation of settlement partnerships that expedited non-wireline service to the public.

He was a member of the boards of directors of several of the early non-wireline cellular settlement partnerships that were created in the top 30 markets, and was involved in the senior management of several of the subsequently formed non-wireline companies in markets 1-90. Dick also played a major role in the initial cellular activities of Telocator, the non-wireline trade association as the industry was building out.

Dick subsequently led the efforts of Metromedia Telecommunications to develop wireless properties in Eastern Europe. He was instrumental in establishing approximately 47 telecommunications ventures in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union Republics in the areas of Cellular Mobile Telephony, Cable Television and Radio Paging.   He currently heads Spot On Networks, a leading wireless internet service provider offering managed WiFi networks to multi-tenant properties, hotels and commercial spaces.

The Wireless History Foundation 2016 Inductees include: Industry Associate: F.J. Pollack (posthumously), President & CEO of Tracfone, Pioneer: Richard J. Sherwin, CEO, Spot On Networks, LLC. Service Provider: Ralph de la Vega, Vice Chairman, AT&T, Inc. and Chief Executive Officer, AT&T Business Solutions and AT&T International, LLC., Technology: Joel S. Engel, Richard H. Frenkiel and Phillip T. Porter (posthumously), AT&T Bell Laboratories researchers whose expertise lead to the establishment of the first nationwide cellular system standards.

 

About Spot On Networks, LLC: Spot On Networks is the largest Wireless Internet Service Provider to the multifamily industry. In addition to offering its UserSafe® managed WiFi services to the multifamily, hospitality and commercial industries, Spot On Networks has a range of wireless services including CellBoost®, a cell coverage enhancement service, and WiFiPlus+®, its wireless backbone integrated with energy management, building automation and security monitoring.

About The Wireless History Foundation: The Wireless History Foundation (WHF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization formed to preserve and promote the history of the wireless industry.   Wireless products and services are continually and dramatically changing the way people worldwide live, work and play.  The Foundation was formed by wireless pioneers to preserve the lessons of wireless for the benefit of future entrepreneurs and innovators.

With the assistance of partner organizations and sponsors, WHF was launched on October 13, 2008, the anniversary of the official commercialization of cellular technology in the United States.  The kick-off event was held exactly 25 years after the first cellular system opened for business in Chicago. The festivities attracted wireless pioneers and industry luminaries from the past five decades.

WHF chronicles the achievements of individuals, the contributions of numerous organizations, and the evolution of markets and technology, all of which fueled the growth of wireless communications and continue to add convenience, productivity, and enrichment to everyday life.

 

Contact: Jessica DaSilva, Sr. Director of Marketing & Sales

Phone:   203-523-5210

 

WiFi Calling Makes DAS “Obsolete” in The Multifamily and Student Housing Industries

WiFi Calling Makes DAS “Obsolete” in The Multifamily and Student Housing Industries

Unit’s magazine recently came out with an article titled: “Making Cell Coverage Moot, Providing Wi-Fi calling through VoLTE is the next great thing” – (to subscribe to Units and read the article, click here or just read on for a brief summary).  Author Gayle Bennett discusses the gravity of the indoor cellular problem in the MDU/ MTU industry and the very large cost burden that building owners have had to endure up until now if they wished to implement a solution, namely, the Distributed Antenna Solution (DAS).  DAS is simply not a realistic solution for most building owners as it can take months-to-years to deploy and cost building owners upwards of a million dollars.

The great news: The last year has seen the adoption of WiFi Calling device support by all of the top four major cellular carriers, first T-Mobile and Sprint with AT&T and Verizon soon following.  (In fact, Verizon announced this weekthat iOS 9.3 beta will include support for Verizon WiFi Calling.)  WiFi Calling is a huge blessing for building owners who already have residents demanding wireless data services.  WiFi Calling allows the building owner to provide both data AND voice throughout their properties on one physical wireless network.

Andrew Marshall, CEO of Campus Technologies, Inc. referred to DAS as, “incredibly expensive” and stated that: “all of that is now obsolete”.  The MDU/ MTU markets including multifamily, student housing and low-income housing will now see a trend towards property-wide WiFi calling networks as a replacement to in-building cellular.  Marshall goes on to say, “If you were just about to spend a six-figure sum on a DAS system, you probably want to think again… If you have invested in a good, solid Wi-Fi system at your property, you probably don’t need to do cellular reinforcement”.

As Bennett stated in her article, “for Wi-Fi calling to eliminate cell coverage complaints, apartment communities MUST have a strong Wi-Fi system”.  This is 100% accurate.  If a building owners wants WiFi calling to be a replacement for cellular voice the WiFi system needs to be fully managed and monitored with Quality of Service (QOS) and Voice Packet Prioritization (VPP).  QOS and VPP ensure that voice traffic is prioritized over data traffic ensuring call clarity, reliability and no dropped calls.  The wireless network also needs to offer seamless hand-off, property-wide, between routers so that calls do not drop when residents roam throughout the building.

What we are seeing from the multifamily and student housing markets right now is a very large push for property-wide WiFi for two reasons: 1) WiFi Calling as a cellular replacement and 2) WiFi Calling allows building owners to put in property-wide WiFi while respecting cable marketing agreements.  WiFi Calling can be offered as the in-building voice solution for free while the same physical network can offer property-wide WiFi at a subscription cost which provides the property with a new revenue stream and still allows for competition between with the cable companies.

Spot On Networks has been at the forefront of WiFi Calling networks for the multifamily and student housing industries.  If you would like to schedule a call with us to learn more about the WiFi Calling networks we are building in multifamily properties, nationwide, email: marketing@spotonnetworks.com or call 877-768-6687.

With The Proliferation Of WiFi Devices Being Used In Residential Spaces Comes Serious Security Concerns

As more WiFi devices are being adapted in-home, including home automation and home security systems, security research firms are becoming more concerned about whether or not these devices are putting people at risk.  The public should be concerned as well.  We are well past the time where password protection and encryption are considered to be adequate security measures.

One recent security flaw, requested by and noted in the Wall Street Journal, found that firmware on certain home routers did not contain a bug-fix from ten year’s prior that prevented hackers from accessing the devices.  Another security flaw recently brought to the public was found in Comcast Xfinity Home security systems.  The flaw allows a thief to jam the 2.4 Ghz radio frequency band to block signals between doors and windows and the home’s baseband hub.  The system does not show halted communication, fails to “positive” and reports sensors intact.   A user may get an indication that everything is okay when in fact it is not.

Both security flaws, which were found by Rapid7, a security research firm, highlight the need for managed WiFi and UserSafe security.  In a multifamily/ multitenant space for adequate speed and reliability it is ideal for the building owner to use a service provider for their property’s wireless access.  It is absolutely necessary that the service provider chosen by the property offer a client isolation level of security AND a fully managed solution, which would prevent both of the scenarios mentioned above and numerous others.

Property owners and developers need to be acutely aware of the risks associated with un-managed WiFi networks, though they should not have to worry about HOW to prevent attacks – that responsibility should lie with their wireless service provider.  Spot On Networks approach to wireless network management offers 24/7 monitoring and security, bandwidth management and is designed with both patent-pending network architecture and security measures.

World Wi-Fi Day To Highlight Wireless Connectivity For Everyone As A Necessary Utility

The Wireless Broadband Alliance announced on January 14 there will be a “World Wi-Fi Day” on June 20, 2016, “an initiative that will accelerate affordable wireless connectivity around the world”.  This event will focus on the division between connected and unconnected societies and focus on the opportunities for societal advancement that wireless connectivity offers.

The goal of World Wi-Fi Day is ultimately to figure out a way to provide connectivity to everyone, everywhere.  Lack of connectivity is not only isolated to developing countries (where billions of people lack any connectivity) but is an issue in developed countries like the U.S.  Low income housing and urban areas contain hundreds of thousands of people who are still unconnected and even more do not have access to sufficient connectivity.  This lack of connectivity contributes significantly to decreased opportunity for certain populations.  World Wi-Fi Day is a call to action to get connectivity to these people and the Wireless Broadband Alliance is encouraging governments, operators, service providers, vendors and Internet giants everywhere to participate in this effort.

Spot On Networks is extremely proud to be at the forefront of building wireless networks that are geared towards providing secure and reliable wireless connectivity to the largest urban low income housing developments in the United States.  We fully believe that everyone should have access to secure, reliable and fast wireless connectivity.  Property owners, developers and governments now recognize the importance of providing wireless access to residents of their communities.   Wi-Fi, which used to be viewed as a nice-to-have amenity for urban residential properties, has become a necessary utility.

In addition to raising awareness, World WiFi Day will “celebrate the significant role Wi-Fi is playing in getting cities and communities around the world connected”.  With the proliferation of wireless devices and our dependence on Wi-Fi for Internet access, voice, streaming, security, home automation, social interaction – the digital divide continues to increase.  The good news is Wi-Fi has the ability to offer widespread, secure connectivity and with proper network management, it is possible to get people in urban areas connected the way the need to be in order to be competitive in an increasingly wireless world.

Verizon WiFi Calling Begins Roll-Out This Week – All Major US Carriers Now Offering WiFi Calling To Subscribers

Samsung Galaxy S6 Image credit: Samsung

Samsung Galaxy S6 Image credit: Samsung

Verizon announced on Friday that it would begin rolling out WiFi Calling to it’s customers this week.  Differing from AT&T, who began their WiFi Calling roll out on the iPhone, Verizon will first offer the feature to subscribers using the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge.  Verizon iPhone users will have to wait a little longer, according to Verizon, early 2016, to have access to the feature on their devices.  However, if Verizon follows the post-FCC-waiver development timeline of AT&T, the wait for iPhone users should not be too long.

Verizon will push the software update out today almost a month after the FCC granted their request for a waiver to offer the service which does not meet the FCC rules for accessibility for the hearing-impaired.  AT&T received a similar waiver and entered into a public fight with T-Mobile who has offered the WiFi calling feature for years (in some form) without having an FCC waiver.

Verizon is the last of the four major carriers to offer WiFi calling to subscribers.  2015 has been a big year for change in the world of WiFi.  It was only a little over a year ago that T-Mobile and Apple announced their partnership to bring the WiFi Calling feature to iPhone.  Despite naysaying the importance of WiFi Calling early on, both AT&T and Verizon have had to bow to market demand and develop the feature or risk losing customers to those who do offer WiFi Calling.  With the recent announcements putting T-Mobile at the front of the carrier satisfaction list, with their “Uncarrier” approach, AT&T and Verizon’s decision to enable the feature is a wise one.

Now that all 4 carriers are on-board with WiFi calling, the next big question is: What will happen with DAS as an in-building voice solution?

Next-Gen CCRCs Will Rely Heavily On Wireless Technologies and Community-Wide Connectivity

A mere five years ago, the idea that senior living communities would need to have a well thought-out wireless plan to support new technologies was hard to wrap one’s head around.  Sure, the high-tech senior was an interesting topic, but the need to seriously invest in supporting tech for seniors was certainly not a priority or necessity.

Times have changed.  Today’s Wall Street Journal article, written by Dr. Joseph Coughlin of MIT’s Age Lab, “How Technology Will Transform Retirement”,deemed that support for the Internet of Things for senior living services will, “become so convenient, and so vital to our care and well-being, that they will be a significant and necessary cost”.  The next generation of seniors to enter into retirement and CCRCs will be tech savvy and tech dependent with a focus on mobile connectivity and IoT.

The number of Americans living in senior care facilities is expected to double by 2030. With the tech dependent Boomer generation comes 70% of U.S. financial assets.  Put them together and you have a generation that uses technology and has the money to pay for upscale retirement facilities.

Staying connected to friends and family is arguably the most important benefit that seniors receive from technology.  Visual calling applications like FaceTime and Skype, social media and easy picture sharing applications like DropBox all help seniors to keep in-touch, not just verbally, but visually.  WSJ mentionsConnected Living, Inc., an online community that keeps senior living residents and their families connected.  More futuristic technologies, like eyeglasses that show reminders of who someone is and your last conversation with them, may not be so far off when you think of Google Glass.

Seniors are living longer, so living “better” and taking control over one’s own health and wellness as well as increasing communication between seniors and their health care providers is another big benefit.  Vitals monitoring, diet & exercise monitoring, medication dispensing, virtual consultations with doctors and appointment reminders are just a few of the services that are available to seniors.

Finally, “connected homes and communities” with futuristic IoT solutions are not just for millennials, they can improve quality of life and maintain independence for seniors.

In a multi-residential CCRC setting, intelligently architected wireless networks will be necessary to support the proliferation of wireless devices that will be descending on senior communities with the Boomer generation.  Investment in a wireless plan will increase the value and appeal of any senior living community as well as save senior living providers money in the long term.

FCC Continues To Lay The Smack-Down On Hotels That Block Personal WiFi HotSpots –Debates Ensue Over WiFi and Your Rights

fcc

The FCC has fined hotel giant, Hilton, and Baltimore Convention Center’s WiFi Provider, MC Dean for being in violation of the law for blocking personal hotspot signals while inside their facilities.  These two companies now join Marriott, who in January of this year was fined $600,000 for the same.  Hilton faced a small penalty of $25,000 for violations that occurred at their Anaheim, CA hotel, whereas wireless provider, MC Dean is facing a proposed fine upwards of $700,000 for admitting to using powerful technology that blocked connections both inside and outside of the Baltimore Convention Center.  MC Dean then charged as much as $1,095 to use their wireless services for events.

The FCC has been both a big advocate of protecting unlicensed spectrum and the rights of the public to have access to WiFi, however they were not all in agreement on this one, the FCC action was approved with a 3-2 vote.  Part of a dissenting opinion from FCC Commissioner Agit Pai:

“In the end, this decision is the latest evidence that the FCC’s enforcement process has gone off the rails.”

One WLAN manager recently put the necessity for FCC enforcement into perspective: “The only thing I can think of is that the people who are ‘confused’ don’t understand that if THEY have the right to jam my Wi-Fi devices, then conversely, I have the right to jam THEIR Wi-Fi devices.  Does anyone really believe that open warfare is the way to proceed?”

The law seems pretty black and white, right?

FCC Section 333: it is “patently unlawful for any company to maliciously block FCC-approved WiFi connections”.

So why, other than the obvious added revenue stream, would a hotel or convention center want to block their guests’ personal hot spots?  Part of the answer is so that the hotel or convention center can preserve the quality of its wireless network.  To put it simply: too many access points trying to operate on the same channels can cause a dramatic decrease in the quality of the service.  This is exactly why a property-wide WiFi network is necessary in a multifamily space: too many personal routers = interference and poor quality for residents.  It is also why intelligent WiFi network architecture is of such importance in a multifamily/ multitenant space.  A WiFi network designed right will have the ability to monitor, adjust and mitigate channel interference remotely and the network would be architected to minimize interference caused by too many access points (Spot On’s patent-pending network architecture does this).

The second “argument” being made by hotel owners is that customers are vulnerable to hacking and identity theft when they don’t control all network usage.  That one is a little odd.  If the hotel is using a truly secure network backed by client isolation technology, like Spot On’s UserSafe™ technology, users on the network are invisible to hackers.  As for those using personal hotspots in the hotel – they should be able to have the right to determine whether or not they feel safe using their connection – it should not be the hotel’s decision.

As for public opinion in the comments and blogs today, there are a few takeaways:

  • The public views WiFi as a free utility – one that is outside of “big-corporate” control
  • Many seem disgruntled by the tendency for higher end hotels to charge for WiFi and are gravitating to mid-tier chains to get their free WiFi and free breakfast
  • This is one area where public majority seems to really view a government entity as “For The People:
  • Not everyone thinks the same. While the majority of the public is cheering for the FCC ruling, a few have the opinion: “If you don’t like it as a consumer, go somewhere else”.  One commenter on Engadget: “It is their property that you are on – if they block your hotspot then don’t go there again and go to a chain that does.”

To read the FCC commission document, click here.

Verizon Requests FCC Permission To Offer WiFi Calling

verizon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here we have it, folks: Verizon has officially requested permission from the FCC to offer the WiFi calling feature to it’s users.  This is huge and  means that Verizon will soon complete the quad-fecta of major wireless carriers to offer WiFi calling, joining AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint.  We called it!  WiFi Calling is the future of in-building voice – finally a solution for building owners that is cost effective and has the ability to provide data services to residents.

If you are new to the WiFi calling conversation, AT&T started rolling out WiFi calling to all users on October 8th after receiving an FCC waiver on October 6.  AT&T had delayed pulling WiFi calling out of Beta as it waited for the waiver grant which gives special permission to the carrier to forgo offering text-to-speech for the hearing impaired while it waits for Real-Time Text (RTT).  RTT  is expected to be made available in 2016.  Verizon’s waiver is along the sames lines.  There has been a very public feud between T-Mobile and AT&T over the waiver with AT&T accusing T-Mobile of not following FCC guidelines and T-Mobile accusing AT&T of simply having sour grapes over being the third carrier to offer the feature.  Drama aside, the important thing is that WiFi, an in-building technology by nature, is now able to provide a cost effective method of in-building voice and will soon be supported on the networks of all four major carriers.

There had been a lot of speculation over whether or not Verizon would be able to roll out WiFi calling by the end of the year.  Back in August, Verizon spokesman Chuck Hamby responded to an inquiry from FierceWireless as to whether or not they were on track to offer WiFi calling in 2015.  Hamby’s response then was, “We’ve previously said we’d support WiFi calling this year, and nothing has changed in that regard.  We’re just not ready to speak to specific devices yet”.  Verizon, however has been so quiet on their progress that it lead to speculation that perhaps they would not deliver.  Furthering the speculation was last week’s news that Verizon had included WiFi calling on their Verizon messages app.

We began 3rd party testing WiFi calling technologies over our networks years ago in anticipation of full carrier support for WiFi calling that is native to the device and are experts on providing crystal clear and reliable WiFi voice coverage.  If you are new to WiFi calling and what it can do for your building, please drop me a line and we would be happy to teach you the benefits: marketing@spotonnetworks.com

Stay tuned for more Verizon WiFi calling news and dates for beta and/or release.

 

 

Verizon enables WiFi calling… with a few caveats

 

Cell problems in your building? We can help with property-wide WiFi calling networks and CellBoost.  Click here to request more information.

Verizon Messages App: Get it on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/message+/id621469412?mt=8

Verizon has jumped on the WiFi calling bandwagon.  In an effort to keep up with AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint, Verizon has enabled WiFi calling for it’s customers via it’s Verizon Messages app.  Verizon’s solution, which seems to be a temporary one until VZ does the “technological work to make WiFi calling available” across it’s network, sits somewhere in between WiFi calling that is native to the phone and OTT apps like Skype and Viber.  The good news about the Verizon Messages WiFi calling solution is that the app does not assign you a different phone number as OTT apps do.  The bad news is that you need to use the app to make voice calls, Verizon customers who use the native dialer on their phone will be making the call over the cellular network.

To use WiFi calling, Verizon customers need to:

  1. Have iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus
  2. Download latest version of Verizon Messages app from App store
  3. Enable advanced calling on iPhone
  4. Enable calling within the Verizon Messages app

AT&T officially enabled WiFi calling across it’s entire network last week after receiving it’s FCC waiver and T-Mobile and Sprint have offered WiFi calling for awhile now.  Verizon CFO, Fran Shammo, said last year that Verizon would enable WiFi calling by the middle of 2015 and Verizon stated earlier this year that they were still on track to enable WiFi calling on their networks by end of 2015.  While it seems clear that Verizon still has some work to do to get WiFi calling working natively for it’s customers, at least the Verizon Messages update will get some of their customers able to use WiFi calling – this shows that VZ is making the effort to get their customers the feature.

Hopefully the public will not have to wait too much longer to have WiFi calling fully enabled on both iOS and Android for all 4 of the top carriers.  When you look at the progress from last fall, it really is huge.  Currently T-Mobile is boasting about 12 million WiFi calls made daily and the adoption of AT&T WiFi calling is sure to skyrocket the WiFi calling numbers in the coming months.  Stay tuned…

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