Mobile operators’ plans for WiFi calling will be limited by quality of public networks
As a leading mobile operator announces it will begin switching some of its customers to WiFi-enabled calls to help combat mobile signal dead spots, a leading telecoms analyst voices concern.
The announcement this week that a leading mobile operator (EE) will be introducing WiFi-enabled calls for customers on monthly contracts is welcome news for millions who struggle to find mobile reception at home, particularly in rural areas and in some office buildings. But stepping out the home or office, is there really the sufficient WiFi network infrastructure out there to make WiFi calling a viable reality? Leading telecoms consultancy and analyst, CCS Insight, think not.
It’s going to depend on the quality of the public WiFi, and if that’s a poor quality service in a coffee shop, shopping centre or wherever, [it] will be a challenge. It’s very much tailored to the private WiFi that people have in the basements of flats, rural homes and other places with poor mobile coverage.
Kester Mann, Network Operator Specialist at CCS Insight
Even EE themselves acknowledge the service will come with its limitations, suggesting that users will need to ‘manage their experience’. Users cannot, for example, switch from WiFi to mobile service mid-call, which would be essential when moving around an area poorly serviced by public WiFi – e.g. leaving a hotspot in a coffee shop to walk to the train station.
Furthermore, phones with WiFi calling activated will automatically switch to WiFi service when it is available, so users could encounter poor quality reception when in the vicinity of a clogged-up WiFi hotspot. They would have to then manually disable the WiFi service to force their phones to handle calls via mobile reception instead.
Robust, public networks hold the key to WiFi calling
These issues, of course, could be avoided with the installation of free, efficient, public WiFi networks in town and city centres. Implementing such networks is not a distant utopia – the technology and expertise exist to make it happen right now – and it is up to councils to take the long view, build a vision for their WiFi-connected town or city and choose an end-to-end provider that can help them deliver it.
Companies should not be held back from innovating by the constraints of existing public WiFi infrastructure – ‘always on’ connectivity is a necessity, not a luxury. It’s time to move forward.
intechnologyWiFi is part of Intechnology plc and is owned by Peter Wilkinson, one of the UK’s most successful technology entrepreneurs, with a proven, 30-year track record in delivering profitable, free technical solutions, including the first free consumer internet service, Freeserve. intechnologyWiFi brings with it all the heritage, knowledge and resource of Intechnology plc, together with robust manufacturing and support facilities, a strong financial position and the expertise in IT to make your WiFi dream a reality.
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