In the excitement about features like home automation, there is one killer features that was completely overlooked that will change the telecom industry for the better.
Imagine travelling the world, making and receiving calls, browsing the web and sending texts all from your phone without worrying about roaming charges. Outgoing calls and texts are all from your phone number without a change in behavior on your part.
With Apples introduction of Wifi calling, we’re getting closer to this reality.
Wifi calling is not a new service, it’s been available from T-Mobile since at least 2006, but it didn’t have much of an uptake, and the primary benefit was voice calls not being used. It wasn’t too long after that unlimited calling plans (or at least plans with 1000+ minutes) became available so the feature was of limited use. Once smartphones started catching on and data become more common place it became even more moot. It also didn’t help that only a few phones supported wifi calling.
But that’s about to change. Wifi calling is great for a few reasons:
- Critical mass at last
Wifi calling was only offered by a few carriers, and there were very few phones that actually supported. The iPhone is one of the best-selling phones the invisible hand will force carriers to adopt the technology much like they were forced to adopt visual voicemail
- Seamless roaming, no issues, lower costs.
People have been using Skype for iPhone to make calls for a long time, but it was never a seamless experience. You had to open the app, type in a number, and the receiving party would get a number that was different than your normal one. The quality was awful. Wifi calling makes this process seamless.
- Microcells? Forget about it.
If you have poor reception in your house you were forced to buy an expensive microcell to make calls. Even worse, data use on the microcell counted as usage despite the fact that it often went over your wifi.
- The dumb pipe revolution
Eventually when data networks are up to snuff the iPhone will probably be able to route calls over a data connection. Just like how Facetime started off as wifi only and then transitions to 3g, the same will be said for voice calling. Guess what the first jailbreak for iOS8 will unlock.
The introduction of wifi calling, as small as it is, is setting the stage for the final stage of the telecom world: convergence. No voice service will be provided by carriers, they will just provide a data pipe and you will choose the voice service of your choice and operate your phone service completely over the top.
Carriers beware, you’re business model is threatened.
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