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Verizon enables WiFi calling… with a few caveats

 

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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…

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.

FCC wags finger at Verizon’s Throttling Defense

  • FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler

    FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler

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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.

 

References:

 
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

Verizon and WiFi Calling

  • 1_2_verizon_logoapril30

    1_2_verizon_logoapril30

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It appears a lot of interesting news came out of the Oppenheimer Technology, Internet and Communications Conference over the last few days. What I found most intriguing were comments by Verizon Communications CFO Fran Shammo, as reported by FierceWireless: http://www.fiercewireless.com/story/verizon-launch-volte-q4-delays-first-lte-only-phones-2016/2014-08-12?utm_medium=nl&utm_source=internal. (As an aside, FierceWireless is head-and-shoulders above everyone else in the technology reporting space).

As reported, Shammo said: LTE-only phones will now be out first half of 2016, not end of 2014. And then he’s quoted as saying “VoLTE doesn’t create a lot of incremental benefit.” And then Fiercewireless adds that Shammo says that “this year and into the future Verizon will focus on deploying small cells, Distributed Antenna Systems and other in-building coverage enhancements to improve its LTE network.

In the meantime, Spot On continues to hear from apartment owners with residents with zero cellular signal inside of their units. The solution isn’t the LTE tweaking that Shammo suggests but a very simple one: Verizon needs to support WiFi calling. Sprint and T-Mobile have embraced it. Consumers need the same from Verizon and AT&T. It would essentially provide owners with a cost effective way to solve in-building cellular problems and allow them to solve the problem today.

We recently highlighted the Smith Micro/Verizon announcement re the use of Netwise. We’re hopeful this middleware is not just for data offload from Cellular to WiFi but is the vehicle for Verizon’s support of WiFi calling…stay tuned.

Well We Could’ve Told You That! – TWC says mobile carriers can’t meet data demand

coffee-tabletOn Wednesday, Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) released a report stating that mobile carriers are not able to meet subscriber data demands due to the increased data usage from smartphones and tablets.  This is a revelation that, while “news”, isn’t really “new” – today’s mobile data subscribers are well aware of the issues that occur while streaming data (lost and slow connections) and clearly the mobile carriers are aware of the issues too: those once-unlimited data plans are now costing mobile subscribers and arm and a leg just to use their devices the way they were meant to be used.

The TWC report was written by New America Foundation director, Michael Calabrese, who stated:

In short, there is simply not enough exclusively licensed spectrum to meet the rapidly rising demand for wireless data, to sustain a competitive market, and to keep prices at an affordable level.  Major mobile carriers are increasingly coming to grips with this reality”.*

So what does this mean for WiFi?  Well, the mobile subscribers who are well aware of the pain that comes from using the cell networks for their high data usage are going to keep on keepin’ on… using WiFi to watch their movies, surf the ‘net, use apps, etc.  And as for the carriers next move… well we will just have to see.

 

* The views expressed in Michael Calabrese’s report are those of the author and not necessarily those of Time Warner Cable.

 

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