Could Phone Companies Combine WiFi & Cellular Coverage ?

Intro – 60 second guide

Here are the key findings from the recent news of Austrlin phone companies potentially offering combined WiFi / cellular ‘hotspots’, there are more details in the article below.

  • The benefits of VoLTE include shorter call setup times and longer battery life on some smartphones, as well as the ability to make video calls over 4G and to use data services while carrying out a voice call.
  • Consumers want faster and much better quality voice calls over the mobile 4G data networks, with cheaper costs and no flag fall fees, unlike regular cellular calls.
  • With more Australian MVNO‘s offering consumers different technologies, it’s only a matter of time before WiFi and cellular hotspots become the new normal.

Voice communication is going all data

As smartphone technology becomes more advanced, so to do the major Australian mobile network operators. Voice communication is going all data and that is only set to increase, not decrease in popularity as time passes on.

The clear benefit to all Australian wireless operators is perfectly clear. Consumers want better quality voice calls over the mobile 4G data networks while phone network providers want to reduce their costs and the resources required to maintain their networks. By encouraging voice over data, it could end up as a win-win situation.

In the long run, Australian consumers will be able to enjoy a better quality of voice call as well as receiving access to enhanced services. If everyone is lucky enough we also might arrive at a situation where this technology will be compatible amongst the different phone carrier networks.

The Telstra Air network

Telstra is working hard to deliver to their users, a nationwide network consisting of thousands of hotspots across Australia.

For Telstra users which are travelling overseas, by partnering with Fon which is a global WiFi network, Telstra users will be able to access their Telstra Home Broadband data allowance, by connecting to over 17 million hotspots.

Telstra Air works on the premise that a small portion of your home WiFi internet connection will become a part of the network allowing other users to connect to it. What this does is create a large network across the country, consisting of home internet users connections, which all Telstra Air customers can access.

By subscribing as a member of the Telstra Air network, you can access the internet over WiFi at numerous different locations around Australia, with the data allowance usage being deducted from your home broadband limit.

For now, it’s not clear whether Telstra’s network resellers will ever get access to their wifi coverage facilities. It seems unlikely. Telstra generally maintain their highest levels of network performance for their ‘retail’ network ( the network used by those who buy direct from Telstra. ) Resellers like Boost Mobile, TeleChoice and CMobile Blue use a proportion of that network.

Vodafone Australia and their VOLTE services

Vodafone Australia offers VoLTE (Voice Over LTE) to all of it’s customers on it’s speedy 4G network in Australia. At the moment, the service is only available to customers which have an existing smartphone which is capable of connecting to the service.

Currently, the only supported smartphones are the Samsung Galaxy S6, Galaxy Note 5 and the Galaxy S6 Edge. iPhone products are being enabled for connectivity at the time of writing.

Existing Vodafone Australia customers will be provided with an over the air upgrade, which will be performed automatically and enable users to connect their supported smartphone to use VoLTE.

Vodafone’s chief technology officer, Benoit Hanssen, was quoted recently as saying :

“As soon as customers receive the update on their device, they’re good to go”. “This is the first step to moving all voice traffic over to 4G.”

“In terms of the network, VoLTE means enhanced spectral efficiency with 2.3 times more users per MHz,” he added. “It will also support the re-farming of our spectrum from 3G to 4G so that we can continue to provide great data speeds as traffic grows.”

Optus providing calling over WiFi

In the middle of this year, Optus in Australia launched an app for Android and iPhone smartphones which allowed voice calls and texting to be made over WiFi connections.

Optus mobile customers with smartphone handsets which run on the latest versions of Android are compatible with the VoLTE services provided by Optus.

When using VoLTE over the Optus 4G Plus networks, users will be charged the exact same rate as if they were making calls using a regular cellular connection. On the user side of the technology, there is no difference between calls and no noticeable difference.

Optus vice president of customer experience and delivery, Amanda Hutton, was quoted as saying in a statement released on the topic of Optus VoLTE.

“Optus is focused on giving our customers the best possible experience. WiFi Talk is an innovative solution to help customers stay connected easily if mobile coverage is limited indoors, whether at home, in the office, or even in places such as shopping centres.”

Vodafone UK deploying cell technology

In the UK Vodafone is set to deploy small cell units at the majority of suburban bus stations, on advertising billboards and on other street furniture. Their plan is to improve network coverage through a partnership deal with JCDecaux, which is the world’s biggest outdoor advertising agency.

Together they plan to target central locations in major UK cities which have large populations, install the cell units and use them to boost the capacity and speed of the Vodafone 4G networks. By using the small cell technology, Vodafone will be able to increase their infrastructure without the need of carrying out expensive mass infrastructure.

Vodafone will be responsible for the installation and daily management of the technology while their business partner JCDecaux will work on the design and the exterior housing of the cell units.

“We are delighted to partner with JCDecaux. This agreement will help us accelerate the deployment of small cell technology by giving us access to locations that in the past have not been available for network installations.” – Kevin

Neil Aitken

Having worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos on both voice and data products, Neil is in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.