iOS 8

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

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.

Sprint enables WiFi calling on iPhone

Last fall saw a flood of major news on the WiFi calling front.  First came the T-Mobile/ Apple announcement that T-Mobile would be the first major carrier to support WiFi Calling with the release of iOS 8, then the subsequent announcements by both AT&T and (a reluctant) Verizon that they would support WiFi calling in mid to late 2015.  WiFi calling has been a huge boon for T-Mobile with their “UnCarrier” marketing pitch holding mass appeal to millennials.  Now, six months later, Sprint has announced support for WiFi calling on the iPhone.  Sprint had previously supported WiFi calling on Android devices, but the WiFi calling support (which requires an iOS 8.3 update) on the iPhone is big news.  Announced yesterday was that Sprint will be making carrier settings over the next couple of days to support the new update.

David Owens, SVP of Product Development for Sprint spoke about the obvious benefits the carrier will see as a result of adding WiFi hotspots to their arsenal of voice coverage:

WiFi Calling is like a major expansion of our network, allowing Sprint customers to get coverage anywhere they have WiFi connectivity… Traditional wireless technology has some limitations in places like basements and high-rise office buildings.  WiFi expands our customer’s connectivity in a big way.  The addition of WiFi calling for iPhone customers is just one more example of how Sprint is getting better every day.”

Next on the horizon should be some major announcements coming from AT&T and Verizon regarding their support for WiFi calling.  Both carriers have been somewhat smug when speaking about WiFi calling as an offering on their networks and pointing to holes in T-Mobile/ Sprint coverage as being the primary motivators for supporting the WiFi calling feature.  That being said, you simply can’t argue with market demand and the market is demanding WiFi calling… the adoption of support of the feature on the iPhone is proof enough of that.



T-Mobile ramps up WiFi calling marketing – big time

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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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