By Lisa Garza, Cisco Service Provider Marketing, Mobility Solutions Everything old is new again, and that’s true for voice over Wi-Fi. When Apple announced support for Wi-Fi calling on the new iPhone 6 this fall, a new hype cycle was born. In the most extreme cases some industry players are claiming the resulting death of residential licensed small cells. As in most technology introductions, the truth will unfold over time as the technology is applied in the real world. If voice over Wi-Fi were a simple panacea, then we would all be using UMA (Unlicensed Mobile Access) technology to make voice calls today. UMA was specified ten years ago, and deployed by several operators including T-Mobile and Orange, but it didn’t take off in the market due to the dependence on handsets and performance troubleshooting challenges. Instead we actually saw some vendors leverage UMA techniques to facilitate the integration of licensed small cells into carrier networks! Apple’s announcement brings new attention to the market, and it’s important to note that Samsung also supports Wi-Fi calling in many of its phones. The handset problem is being solved, and new Wi-Fi technology like high-speed 802.11ac access points and fast roaming are creating the opportunity for delivering high quality voice over Wi-Fi. But there are still issues with optimizing the handoff between the Wi-Fi and cellular networks, causing some operators to proceed cautiously. Cisco believes the future of mobility lies in the densification offered by small cells and by the convergence of licensed and unlicensed technology. We are leading the definition of licensed/unlicensed coordination to deliver a more universal mobile experience. In the meantime, we seek to demystify the hype to drive towards the slope of enlightenment. Learn more about how this technology really works in this new white paper Wi-Fi Calling and the Support of IMS Services over Carrier Wi-Fi Networks and view our Cisco Knowledge Network recent webcast, HD Voice over Wi-Fi: The Game changer.
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