Wi-Fi calling the next BIG thing

By Craig Schnarrs, Blog Contributor
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Wi-Fi has really gone mainstream and it's everywhere now. It wasn't always like this just a few years ago things were a lot different. Wi-Fi used to be and sometimes still is the redheaded stepchild of the network world. There was no thought given to design it was a best effort network that was only used as a secondary network.

Technology has advanced a lot in the past few years and all sorts of new applications are now possible for example Wi-Fi calling is on the horizon. Currently to get indoor cellular coverage a business would install a distributed antenna system (DAS) but the cost was out of the reach for all but the largest companies. Wi-Fi calling can solve this problem and at an affordable price point.

Another use of Wi-Fi calling could help people traveling for business. Why is It that hotels have bad cellular coverage? Don't you wonder why nobody has fixed the coverage or capacity issue? Maybe I stay in the wrong hotels, but this seems to happen almost everywhere I go.

Apples inclusion of Wi-Fi calling in iOS 8 and the iPhone 6 and 6+ and its availability in the Samsung galaxy series was the beginning. T-Mobile announced its support for Wi-Fi calling and started promoting a free personal cellspot for the home. AT&T and Verizon also announced that they will support Wi-Fi calling sometime in 2015. At the beginning of April Sprint announced that it will support Wi-Fi calling on the iPhone starting with the iOS 8.3 update.

Think of the possible impact on the wireless infrastructure business. For years wireless carriers have been deploying femtocells in home and offices for customer who have poor coverage. They won't be needed anymore.

Currently there is a lot of demand for in building wireless calling solutions. But carriers don't have the funds to provide coverage and capacity in every home and office. Wi-Fi calling may solve this problem and do it a price point that is economically feasible.

Is your network ready for Wi-Fi calling? It better be, because its coming and there is no stopping it. The genie is out of the bottle, fear not because there are some awesome webinars to explain everything

The first is Wi-Fi Calling, Part 1: Downfall of Femtocells, Small Cells and Indoor DAS, this is with Peter Thronycroft and Alan Ni of Aruba Networks:

The next one is Wi-Fi Calling, Part 2: The Calm Before the Storm with Peter Thronycroft and Bala Krishnamurthy of Aruba networks:

What is Wi-Fi Calling?

Wi-Fi calling is basically voice over internet protocol (VoIP) service. The service must have high speed Internet that can handle it and also be configured with the proper quality of service (QOS). Otherwise, you will experience poor call quality and dropped calls.

Wi-Fi is not the only thing that a company uses its Internet connection for. A great deal of phones setup for Wi-Fi calling will put a strain on networks that do not have enough bandwidth to handle it. A poor design will lead to bad connectivity and slower internet speeds for everyone.

If your Wi-Fi network isn't ready yet for calling one thing you need to consider is your equipment. The wrong wireless access point can cause problems and prevent the network for achieving its true potential.

Wi-Fi calling Applications If you have Vonage service, there is a very cool App called Vonage extensions. It works with both Android and iOS operating systems. Vonage Extensions uses the Vonage VoIP telephony network. The App can route calls over Wi-Fi or you can configure it to use your mobile data plan. Extensions works just like it's a telephone extension in your home but the person you're calling sees your cell phone number on caller ID.

Best of all, there are no toll charges for calling home from anywhere in the world. Even if your on a cruise ship in the Caribbean Sea. For billing purposes the App handles all calls as though you made them from your home phone.

The one drawback to this App is that it's limited to outbound calling only. The way I work around this is I use my Google voice number for incoming calls and they are forwarded to my Vonage number and that number rings on my cell phone. It's a really simple to use setup and I have personally used it to make and receive calls from Aruba, Jamaica, and The Bahamas while on family vacations.

Google hangouts is another good application for making free Wi-Fi calls. In order to get hangouts to work first get a Google voice number and set it up with your mobile phone. Next, install hangouts and set it up for your device.

A great article that talks all about how to setup Google hangouts can be found at


Wi-Fi calling has a lot of potential and is still very new to the market. It is gaining in momentum now that smartphone makers such as Apple and Samsung are supporting it. Cellphone carriers see the writing on the wall and will support this if they want to stay competitive. It is very important to have a proper Wi-Fi design to support the demands of speed and quality of service otherwise the network performance will suffer. There are several applications designed for Wi-Fi calling that allow you to stay in contact even while on a vacation where traditional calling would be cost prohibitive.