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

Verizon Requests FCC Permission To Offer WiFi Calling

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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…

AT&T WiFi Calling On Its Way – FCC Grants Waiver Request

AT&T ATandT Store, 2/2015, by Mike Mozart of TheToyChannel and JeepersMedia on YouTube #ATandT

Image credit: Endgadget.com

Hold on to your seats – AT&T WiFi calling for all AT&T customers is now on the fast track after a brief delay due to AT&T’s petition to the FCC for a waiver for it’s real-time text (RTT) feature.  The FCC requires services to support teletypewriter for hearing-impaired individuals, the RTT feature that AT&T wants to use will not be available until 2016 which is why AT&T needed the petition.  As reported, AT&T launched the feature in Beta and Beta customers were still able to use WiFi Calling during the delay.  Carrier drama has ensued with AT&T calling out both T-Mobile and Sprint for offering WiFi Calling without getting a waiver from the FCC:

We’re grateful the FCC has granted AT&T’s waiver request so we can begin providing Wi-Fi calling. At the same time we are left scratching our heads as to why the FCC still seems intent on excusing the behavior of T-Mobile and Sprint, who have been offering these services without a waiver for quite some time. Instead of initiating enforcement action against them, or at least opening an investigation, the agency has effectively invited them to now apply for similar waivers and implied that their prior flaunting of FCC rules will be ignored. This is exactly what we meant when our letter spoke of concerns about asymmetric regulation. – AT&T Senior VP Jim Cicconi

I have to imagine that T-Mobile is getting a bit of a chuckle out of the AT&T soapbox as T-Mobile is clearly the WiFi Calling pioneer, having offered the service in some form for years now.  The FCC has yet to bring a case against T-Mobile on this topic, so AT&T does appear to have some sour grapes.  There has been speculation as to why AT&T did not elect to deploy the WiFi Calling service. The FCC was not insisting carriers get the waiver for RTT and popular tech sites have pointed out the marketing value in throwing T-Mobile under the bus while appearing to be the carrier to offer WiFi Calling “the right way”.  After all, a good marketing spin might be necessary as T-Mobile is gaining a ton of subscribers with their UnCarrier model.  Green-eyed monster or not, we are thrilled that the AT&T WiFi calling feature will soon be offered to all AT&T subscribers and that AT&T sees the value of WiFi calling – or at least the market demand for it…

WiFi Calling Gets Carrier Support in UK – AT&T Support Updates

wifi-calling-menuWiFi Calling is continuing to make headlines in the U.S. and the UK with carriers on both sides of the Atlantic continuing to scramble to support the feature to meet consumer demand.  WiFi Calling has proven to be of huge benefit especially to owners of large residential buildings that experience poor voice coverage.

Here are the biggest WiFi calling news headlines from the last week:

AT&T Waits for FCC Approval: The latest update from AT&T seems to be that the average customer will have to wait a bit longer for the feature to be active while AT&T waits for FCC approval.  As we have been reporting, the iOS 9 update was available for public beta from Apple and many AT&T customers had the ability to use the WiFi calling features.  Those customers that had access to the WiFi calling feature in public beta will still be able to use it.  AT&T’s statement about the delay: “AT&T tested WiFi Calling through the iOS 9 beta and we are prepared to support commercial launch of the service once approved by the FCC”.  According to AT&T, the FCC needs to approve the RTT (real-time text) feature which is a system used for hearing impaired users.

EE Releases WiFi Calling – Vodafone Plays Catch Up: EE has released WiFi calling.  According to techradar.com, EE customers can already utilize the feature if they are using a compatible device.  As for Vodafone, network support should be available for the Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge in the coming weeks.  UK carriers Three and O2 offer support for WiFi calling as well, however it is in the form of a mobile application and is not native to the device.  The Three and O2 solutions are still an upgrade from OTT apps like Skype and Viber, however, due to their use of the phone number native to the subscribers device.  As for seamless roaming between WiFi and cellular for EE and Vodafone customers, it is not yet available.  EE has positioned itself as a leader in working on a solution for seamless hand-off between WiFi and cellular, however it will not be available until EE switches over to VoLTE later in the year.

Ericsson Announces Support For WiFi Calling On Non-Cellular Devices: Ericsson has expanded it’s WiFi calling offering to include tablets and laptops when a subscriber downloads software to their now cellular device. This new Ericsson offering follows a recent consumer report on WiFi Calling produced by Ericsson consumer labs.  The July report made consumer adoption of native WiFi calling very clear with 61% of respondents claiming to now make more frequent and longer voice calls over WiFi calling and half saying that they are moving away from OTT apps like Skype in favor of WiFi Calling.

For more information on WiFi Calling for residential and commercial buildings, contact: marketing@spotonnetworks.com

 

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.

Is your property ready for WiFi calling?

wificallingIt seems like a long time ago, but it was just last year that Apple announced iOS 8 support for WiFi calling and T-Mobile announced it would be the first major carrier to support WiFi calling on the iPhone.  The speculation started almost immediately  – what would the two biggest cellular carriers (AT&T and Verizon) do?  Would they have to support WiFi calling due to market demand? If all the major carriers supported WiFi calling, it would because a real solution to in-building cellular problems.  At Spot On we have long seen that In-Building WiFi would be the most cost effective voice solution for building owners if supported by the four majors and our belief was that if Apple were supporting it, Verizon and AT&T would eventually have to support it.  Despite two quick vague announcements from Verizon and AT&T that they would be supporting WiFi calling “sometime in 2015″, news from both on the topic has been pretty quite.  Until now…

A few days ago, RCR Wireless reported on a June petition by AT&T to the FCC in which AT&T set their 2015 target date to release WiFi calling support.  Despite CEO Ralph De La Vega’s VoWiFi-downplay statement last year that, “we’ll use WiFi calling in 2015, but only as a complement”, the AT&T petition in June had AT&T state, “As these VoIP technologies become the preferred platform for voice services…”.  It seems like AT&T is changing their tune on VoWiFi.

While Verizon has remained a bit more publicly quiet on the topic during the last 8 months, they have previously stated that their launch of VoWiFi “should be available by mid-2015″.  We have also heard through the rumor mill that Verizon is beta testing WiFi calling with a few select customers.

Now.  The real question is: Is your property ready for WiFi calling?   With support from all four major carrier WiFi will be the most cost effective method to providing in-building voice coverage and data for your residents, tenants and customers.  If you need more information on WiFi calling, or an assessment of your property’s wireless needs, please contact me.

Qualcomm, LTE-U and WiFi

For those of you not following this, the latest news is that Qualcomm in a filing with the FCC is responding to claims that LTE-U interferes with WiFi. The interference claims are being made by folks in the cable industry and others who believe that LTE-U is a clever technology meant not to solve any real problem but to give the cellular folks and their chipmakers more control over the user. From our end it looks like LTE-U is the latest reincarnation of Iridium – a technology in search of a market – and we frankly don’t see any compelling demand for the offering.

In the meantime: we still wait for Verizon and AT&T to finally complete their announced support of WiFi calling. This will do more to satisfy consumers in the short term than any progress on the LTE-U front.

AT&T AVP for Antenna Solutions talks In-Building Coverage & Capacity

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This year’s HetNet Expo in Chicago boasted some great speakers including featured speaker Paula Doublin, Assistant Vice President, Antenna Solutions Construction and Engineering for AT&T.  Doublin started her speech by opening up for questions and, not surprisingly, the first question asked was in regards to spending.  What was really interesting, however, was the focus on multi-faceted, well-thought out in-building deployments that address both coverage and capacity issues.  Doublin’s speech seemed to reject the “one solution fits all” approach, even going so far as to say, “I cringe when I hear the word plug and play…there is no such thing” (we agree).

Doublin seems to support exhausting all network options to solve the coverage and capacity problems – hinting that you need all network deployment types, including WiFi and network customization and that it all has to work together to provide a successful in-building solution that provides both coverage AND capacity:

“You’ve got site acquisition, you’ve got power, you’ve got backhaul, you’ve got interoperability, you’ve got alarming and maintenance, you’ve got customer service and you’ve got technical skill. You’ve got to have all of those to deploy a macro. What about a DAS? You’ve got to have it all. What about a Wi-Fi? You’ve got to have it all. What about a small cell? You’ve got to have it all.”

At Spot On Networks, we have been speaking of network customization and customized in-building solutions for a long time.  In regards to cellular coverage the first essential step to getting the problem solved is an exhaustive frequency site survey to determine wher the actual problems are and then build the solution to fit the problem. There simply is no “one size fits all” solution.  Coverage, cost, network management and backhaul capacity (to name a few) all need to be taken into consideration to develop the idea in-building solution.    With 4 of 4 major carriers announcing support for WiFi calling coming in 2015, the complexity of in-building coverage and capacity solutions gets even greater and cost savings really begins to come into play in the MDU/ MTU spaces.

For more information about getting a site survey and frequency plan for your property email: sales@spotonnetworks.com

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