Communication without a network: operators allowed the Russians to call over Wi-Fi

Photo: Oleg Yakovlev/RBC

Subscribers of two Russian cellular networks will be able to make phone calls via Wi-Fi network. Therefore, the statements, figures which are rising more slowly, quickly and inexpensively expand the coverage area of the networks

Mobile operators have found a way to increase the coverage and simultaneously to unload their networks at no additional cost. Through the use of Wi-Fi networks subscribers will be able to use mobile phones even where there is no cell signal in the basement, new buildings, etc.

Wi-Fi calling

November 15 MTS Russia’s first announced the launch of Wi-Fi Calling (eng. “calls over Wi-Fi”). It allows when there is no mobile network signal to make calls via Wi-Fi without the use of separate mobile apps like “MTS Connect” or WhatsApp and Viber.

“To call over Wi-Fi”, you need once to activate this function in the settings of your smartphone and select the network or normal Wi-Fi, which by default will be called. Charged on Wi-Fi calling will be on tariffs home area. In the next 12 months will be promoperiod when home prices will apply for calls over a Wi-Fi network roaming, said the representative of MTS.

Until the end of 2016, the option will be available only in Moscow and on two models of the Samsung smartphones (Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 edge), but, as predicted, a representative of MTS, next year it appears the majority of mobile phone manufacturers. At the same time, MTS will launch a new technology in the regions.

Except for MTS to use the Wi-Fi plans “T2 RTK holding” (Tele2). Yesterday the company announced that until the end of November will launch the service “W-Fi-calls”. This is a special application through which subscriber can make calls to any mobile phone numbers, short numbers, numbers 8-800, as well as landline numbers, that is, on all phones regardless, it is worth to them this application or not, and send and receive SMS messages. All calls will be made home tariff of subscriber, including while in international roaming. The service will operate on all models of smartphones running operating systems Android and iOS.

“Megaphone” in may launched a mobile application E-Motion, which has similar functionality and works “with all the smartphones, tablets and laptops”, said the representative of this company Ms. Julia Dorokhin. She did not answer the question, will the “MegaFon” to launch Wi-Fi Calling.

The representative of “VimpelCom” told RBC that the operator working on the implementation of Wi-Fi Calling, but noted that while it supports a small number of models.

The American experience

Worldwide Wi-Fi Calling develop about 20 cellular companies.

The ability to make calls to numbers of mobile operators using Wi-Fi first appeared in the United States, T-Mobile offered it in 2007. Widely implemented technology beginning in 2014, when her arms took the whole “great American Quartet” — T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T and Verizon. According to TNS, 37% of respondents said that their operator provides the ability to make calls using Wi-Fi Calling when the mobile network is unavailable. 39% have made calls using this service, including 34% women, 43% men. Moreover, among the used the service more young people: 50% of subscribers aged 18 to 34 years used Wi-Fi Calling, at the age of 45-64 is only 26%. 67% of respondents believe that the ability to make calls via Wi-Fi must be base.

Cheap network

The largest cellular operators in Russia (MTS, “Megaphone”, “VympelCom” and “T2 RTK Holding”) in the sum about 100 thousand base stations of cellular communication. At the same time in Russia there are 15 million domestic and 82 thousand public Wi-Fi hotspots, praised the Agency “TMT Consenting”.

Thus, the advantages of using Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Calling is the ability to increase network coverage, says senior Manager of the Department of reference networks, a Chinese manufacturer of Telecom equipment, Huawei in Russia Vitaly Lepekhin. And we are talking about a rapid increase in the coverage and for the account of a subscriber who has already bought a Wi-Fi router and pays for the service, said the expert. The technology also allows us to provide innovative services (calls in HD-quality).

At the same time Lepekhin noted that while a very small number of smartphones supports Wi-Fi Calling. He believes that at least initially, the technology will not be popular.

A leading expert on the development of solutions in the field of mobile broadband, the Swedish equipment manufacturer, Ericsson region Northern Europe and Central Asia Sergey among the disadvantages of the technology calls that the cellular operator cannot 100% control the quality of the provided service, because the Wi-Fi network usually does not belong to him. At the same time, he believes that technology is “beneficial and useful to both the operators and users”: “For mobile operators Wi-Fi Calling will primarily expand voice coverage inside buildings, where for any reason the cell communication quality is insufficient. You don’t have to go to the balcony to call, if you have a home Wi-Fi, the operator can alter your Wi-Fi network to carry voice call,” — says Vorobyev. He believes that technology is “a good opportunity for operators to “talk” to those subscribers who are travelling abroad in order to save prefer to use for calls and messaging with other applications.

However, I agree not all experts. The General Director of “TMT Consulting” Konstantin Ankilov noted that, in practice, calls through the messenger of the operators do not enjoy popularity, because there are free alternatives. At the same time, the operators, by and large, now has no choice. “On the one hand, voice communication is replaced by text with other subscribers increasingly prefer to use for calls and different instant messengers. Operators tried to fight this trend, but failed, now attempting to lead it. Thus companies are trying to fight the traffic leaving the free services that only work through Wi-Fi. So people didn’t call on Skype, and through their mobile operator,” says Ankilov.

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