The first time I experienced Voice over Wi-Fi (VoWi-Fi), I was on the receiving end of the call. One of my colleagues called us with an OTT voice app using the airplane Wi-Fi. Not surprisingly, the sound quality was terrible, but we were able to communicate our message to him after repeating it a few times. My colleague’s call was using the best-effort network available, and in an airplane, there was not much bandwidth available for him to hear us or for us to hear him.
People still want to connect with their friends, colleagues, and family members, and they are using whatever network is available to connect. However, customers no longer want to settle for ‘best effort’ mobile network to communicate; they want a great voice experience, regardless of the network they are using. With the pervasiveness of Wi-Fi available everywhere, our operator customers are now seeing an uptick in demand for VoWi-Fi. They are embracing the technology for many reasons, because VoWi-Fi offers:
- A cost-effective solution to complement macro coverage: As many operators continue to deploy LTE networks, there will be areas where coverage is suboptimal. Those areas include indoor areas where Wi-Fi provides better coverage.
- Customer retention:Operators want to retain their customers to ensure they do not move to an OTT voice application.
- Single telephone number access:Enterprise employees want to be able to use a single number to be reached, regardless of the device or location.
- Voice calls on non-SIM devices:Currently, voice calls are only available on devices that support cellular coverage or OTT applications. VoWi-Fi expands the number of voice-capable devices to cover non-SIM Wi-Fi-only devices.
VoWi-Fi has a main advantage that OTT applications are lacking, and that is that the VoWi-Fi traffic is routed using the iWAN technology as it is built to the 3GPP 23.402 standard. Instead of simply using the “best effort” network, Wi-Fi components work with the packet core, policy, and subscriber servers to ensure that the user has a good quality of experience.
Cisco offers a comprehensive VoWi-Fi solution that is currently in use with mobile operators around the globe. The solution includes components from our Wi-Fi infrastructure, the ePDG from our Packet Core, the Cisco Prime AAA server, Cisco Policy Suite with entitlement server, and many other components enabling operators to address their VoWi-Fi needs today. The combination of Cisco’s years of experience deploying Wi-Fi for operators with the complete VoWi-Fi solution enables operators to address VoWi-Fi demands on their network today and build deeper relationships with their customers.