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Managed WiFi Solutions for MDU / MTU, Hotel, Assisted Living, & Restaurants

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…

WiFi Calling – What Building Owners Need To Know – Part I

For a private webinar on WiFi calling for your property portfolio, click here.

It was almost a year ago that Apple announced the WiFi calling feature for iPhone and that set off a slurry of wireless chatter: if Apple was investing in WiFi calling development for T-Mobile, market demand would have to push the two majors (AT&T & Verizon) to support it….., right?  After all, what iPhone user is willing to forgo an iPhone feature for carrier loyalty (pretty much no one…. perhaps except for some of the lucky few who are still grasping onto an unlimited data plan)?  But seriously, Apple has basically dominated and dictated the tech market with the iPhone since 1997… so those of us in the WiFi world were, of course, speculating (hoping) that major carrier support was only months away after the T-mobile announcement.  Well, we were almost right….iOS 9 is on pace to offer WiFi calling for AT& T customers and Verizon is still promising WiFi calling by end of 2015… so there you have it: WiFi calling is here.

Successful business lady standing with hands foldedSo, What Does All This Mean For Building Owners?

It mean’s a heck-of-a-lot.  First off and  most importantly it means that a property-wide WiFi networks will not only provide property-wide data services, but voice coverage as well.  The in-building voice problem that has plagued the multifamily/ multitenant industry for years is no quick and inexpensive to solve.  WiFi calling means that other voice solutions like DAS, and Small Cell will be pretty much obsolete due to the length of time it takes to deploy, the necessity for carrier approval and the tremendous cost.

That being said, now is the time for building owners to get educated on WiFi calling, what it means and how best to implement it to their portfolio.  (For a private webinar on WiFi calling for your company, click here).  At Spot On we have been testing dedicated WiFi calling networks as an In-Building voice solution for the last couple of years and have had 3rd party-tested verification that a dedicated WiFi calling network with QOS is not only as good as cellular, but in many cases, call clarity was vastly improved.  What is essential here are three things: QOS, Network Architecture and Network Management.  In the next few posts we will go over each of these things in detail and why they are so important to a quality VoWiFi network.

WiFi Calling QOS (Quality of Service)

So, what’s all this talk about QOS (quality of service) and voice pack prioritization and how does it affect WiFi calling?  Quality of Service is necessary to ensure voice experience.  One thing that is very important to remember is that a multi-residential setting and a single-residential setting are not the same when it comes to WiFi (we will get into this more when discussing Network Architecture).  Think of a WiFi data network: you are watching a movie on Netflix and you have a poor WiFi connection.  What does your movie do when the connection gets slow?  It buffers.  Really annoying and can certainly put a damper on your movie experience, but once the buffering is complete your movie continues.  Voice is very different – signal loss or signal interference (the same that would cause a movie to buffer) can kill a voice call, cause jitter and fade or make a voice completely unintelligible.  VoWiFi does not use anywhere near as much bandwidth as data BUT (and it’s a big but), the signal needs to be consistent.

Another scenario: You go to make a WiFi voice call at home, someone else jumps on the router and starts streaming a movie.  Again, with data this might cause your Internet surfing to slow, but you would still be connected to the Internet.  With voice, the bandwidth hog could literally cause your call to drop by taking all the bandwidth and pulling it for their data streaming.

The way we deal with this in an MDU/ MTU setting is by setting up a dedicated voice network, only for voice calls.  We ensure that all voice packets are prioritized and we do this by constantly monitoring the network, making sure that voice comes first and data does not interfere.  This network model is also beneficial to building owners who have marketing agreements with cable companies but still want to offer WiFi services throughout their property.  Spot On can set up a dedicated WiFi voice network that is for all residents and voice only as well as a data network where residents can subscribe to data services.  This allows the property to offer VoWiFi in a bulk WiFi scenario without interfering with cable marketing agreements.

Stay tuned for more…

If you would like to request a private webinar on WiFi calling for your property portfolio, click here and we will get your questions answered.

T-Mobile brings seamless WiFi Calling option on iPhone 6

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T-Mobile USA’s newest feature, WiFi Calling, has had the cellular industry buzzing for quite some time. T-Mobile isn’t the only carrier to offer the service, but achieving seamless transfer from home or office WiFi to cellular carrier networks have not been a speedy process. T-Mobile announced this week that they have enabled the seamless WiFi calling option on iPhone 6, giving their customers a way to go from WiFi to T-Mobile’s Networks without disruption.

WiFi calling is nothing new. Companies like Google and Skype have long since offered their versions of Internet-based calls. The drawbacks to the aforementioned services such as Google Hangout ais that customers weren’t able to use their cellular phone numbers. T-Mobile has developed a way for your cellphone to go from WiFi directly to T-Mobile’s network.

 

Having one of the smallest networks in the US, T-Mobile has been faced with a uphill battle competing on the American market. Due to it’s reduced network capacity, T-Mobile was known for dropped calls and lack of coverage area. This new addition to it’s service offerings gives T-Mobile customers a boost in signal reception by allowing them to utilize their WiFi network to send and receive calls and text messages.

No other carrier is offering a strong WiFi-Calling service such as T-Mobile, in part due to what bigger carriers such as Verizon and AT&T describe as the lack of need due to a much larger coverage areas. But where the larger carriers fall short is the poor reception areas such as apartment and office buildings constructed with Green Building materials that help trap energy in, while insulating the interiors from the elements. These materials also block out wireless signals. This is where T-Mobile is sure to pickup disenfranchised customers who pay high monthly costs of Verizon’s or AT&T’s service plans while missing out on coverage places they use their phones most. Allowing their customers to use WiFi calling gives T-Mobile a network coverage boost as well as helps them retain clients who would otherwise switch services due to poor reception. It also greatly improves their customer satisfaction in the Multi-Dwelling Units (Apartment and Office Buildings). Overall, this move signals a “win-win” for T-Mobile in what amounts to be as one of the most effective ways to improve network usability.

T-Mobile ramps up WiFi calling marketing – big time

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Image rights: t-mobile.com

Image rights: t-mobile.com

Just proceeding and in the wake of Friday’s announcement that AT&T would begin offering WiFi calling 2015, T-Mobile seems to be ramping up it’s marketing of WiFi calling with new commercials and announcements staking their O.G. claim on WiFi calling.  “You heard it from us first”.  The race is on… with the AT&T announcement, T-Mobile is going to attempt to get as many subscribers to switch as they can before AT&T launches their WiFi calling solution.  Pulling up the rear is Verizon – who has yet to announce support for WiFi calling.  The question with Verizon no longer being “if?”, but “when?”.  Let’s face it – with three of the four major carriers (T-Mobile, Sprint and AT&T) now supporting WiFi calling, Verizon simply has to follow suit or risk being perceived as simply not-with-it.

What does this mean for MDU/ MTUs?

T-Mobile’s latest WiFi calling commercial:

It means some advance planning needs to take place.  WiFi calling can be the answer to the indoor voice coverage problem, but it has to be done right.  We know an MDU property with consumer routers in every apartment is a recipe for signal disaster and this stands to be even more true when it comes to voice calling.  To truly offer WiFi calling as a solution to the indoor voice coverage problem, it has to be well managed and include QOS that prioritizes voice packets.  This will ensure that the caller can, first and foremost, make reliable calls from anywhere in the building… a necessity when providing building-wide coverage.

 

Speak with us today regarding WiFi calling for your building.

Apples iOS 8, the iPhone 6, the Apple Watch and of course, WiFi Calling

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Yesterday Apple’s “September 9 Event” (as the blog-o-sphere heralded the secret but widely-speculated iPhone 6 launch) took place amid a flurry of internet chatter, live blogging, round-table live discussions and oh yeah, U2.  What made this event stand out – in fact is widely being referred to as being as impressive as the original iPhone launch – was that is had a much different feel from the last few (dare I say) static Apple events.  The venue was a custom built three story mega-structure, the usually tight invite list was broadened, but most importantly no one was 100% sure as to what was going to happen.  Sure there were rumors, maybe a bigger iPhone, perhaps an iWatch – but mostly there was just a lot of speculation.

The event delivered.  The announcement of new, larger iPhones, Apple Watch, Apple Pay and more made this event less about a product launch and more about a full scale integration place between us and all of our Apple devices.  In fact with the ubiquitous Apple computer which is now composed of all of device working in sync together, all the time, there is no portion of our life left untouched by an Apple computer.  Wired said it best, “A computer in your pocket. A computer on your body. A computer paying for all your purchases. A computer opening your hotel room door. A computer monitoring your movements as you walk though the mall. A computer watching you sleep. A computer controlling the devices in your home. A computer that tells you where you parked. A computer taking your pulse, telling you how many steps you took, how high you climbed and how many calories you burned—and sharing it all with your friends. A computer in your car. All of it the same computer: The computer in the sky that connects to the computer in your pocket and on your wrist and in your car, your office, and your home.” 

One step closer to a WiFi calling world…

Of most interest to us, of course, was Apple’s Phil Schiller discussing Apple’s support for WiFi calling and it’s partnering with T-Mobile for advanced WiFi calling.  So exciting!!! For the first time, iPhone users over T-Mobile’s network will be able to seamlessly roam from WiFi to cellular and back.  We have been waiting for this release for months now and with Apple now officially onboard with WiFi calling – the market is going to demand that Verizon and AT&T support this new iPhone feature.  What we did not expect, however, was the emphasis on the T-Mobile/ Apple partnership to make WiFi calling the best it can be… better than cellular!  A simple Google search for “Apple WiFi Calling” shows how exciting this news is.

Then there was Apple’s small announcement about wireless charging.  While the tech world was less than impressed with what Apple is calling “wireless charging” the general feeling was “we like where this is heading”.  The wireless charging industry has never quite gotten off the ground, but with Apple onboard there are sure to be good things to come.  If you missed the announcement, the new Apple watch will use a method called “inductive charging”.  According to the Forbes write up,  “An electric current in a transmitter creates a magnetic field that induces and electric current in a receiver, thereby charging the device.  But in the case of the Apple Watch, the transmitter, which is snugged into place with a magnet, is connected to a cord.”  That being said – you still don’t have to plug it into the wall which is a huge bonus.

 

 

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