Each industry has its specific trends and expectations for the future. In the mobile telecom community, there is a constant discussion about the value that an in-country network carrier brings, with OTT players like Google, Apple, Facebook and WhatsApp rapidly bringing new services to market in an efficient, global service approach.
While some mobile carriers are quietly concerned about the risk of becoming a data dump pipe, others are already changing the game and competitive landscape with new subscriber services.
Measuring mobile carriers with the “Connect Test”
In Germany, this competition is fierce with three carriers fighting for consumers: Telekom (part of T-Mobile), Vodafone and O2. In this type of competitive climate, consumers are in the driver’s seat, and in Germany, many are consulting and considering the performance scores of each network before choosing a provider. The leading report for this data is published in the IT magazine “Connect” and is commonly referred to as the “Connect Test”.
The “Connect Test” not only publishes scores on data performance, it also does this for voice. For Vodafone Germany, the ability to lead and be first to market in providing voice as a service over these evolving data networks (voice over 4G, also known as voice over LTE or simply “VoLTE”) has become a strategic competitive advantage. Vodafone Germany was forward-looking and confident that the key VoLTE service features (better voice quality and shorter call setup times) would have positive impact the voice performance metrics. And the results seem to confirm this, as Vodafone subsequently won of the award for “Best Voice Network” in Germany.
Mobile carriers finding new relevancy
These developments at Vodafone demonstrate that voice is alive and thriving in the highly competitive mobile industry. With the title now theirs to lose and the competition from other carriers intensifying, Vodafone Germany is rapidly adding key enhancements to its voice services including the recently announced introduction of Wi-Fi Calling.
The backbone of Wi-Fi calling
WiFi calling, also known as voice over W-Fi or “VoWiFi,” is built on the foundation of VoLTE. With Wi-Fi calling, subscribers can make voice calls using a Wi-Fi network as the wireless access to network. On a smartphone, the service behaves similar to when a subscriber accesses data services: as soon as the smartphone is within Wi-Fi coverage, the carrier of the services switches from 4G to Wi-Fi. The services are completely transparent for the subscriber who may or may not even notice the small icon on the screen that indicates that the call is being carried over Wi-Fi. If the subscriber moves out of Wi-Fi coverage during the call, the call is transparently transformed into a VoLTE call.
The benefits of Wi-Fi calling are especially valuable in situations where there is spotty 2G/3G/4G coverage, like in office buildings, houses, underground/metro and even airplanes.
Vodafone Germany has launched initially with the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge models, with more models to follow soon.
How Vodafone did it
Vodafone Germany relied on Mitel as a key supplier of VoLTE and VoWiFi solutions. Both offerings deliver on the promise of IMS (IP multimedia subsystem), which is a standardized all-IP services environment with which mobile carriers can transform networks from expensive traditional systems to cost-effective IP-based technology. And Vodafone isn’t the only company relying on Mitel for technology like this—Mitel mobile solutions are deployed in 47 of the top 50 economies in the world.