VoWiFi is not new. Many of us have been using VoIP through the likes of Skype or Lync for many years and VoWiFi through the mobile versions of these VoIP offerings. In the context of this blog though, VoWiFi is about getting calls on your mobile phone number. Since VoLTE is IP-based, using VoWiFi as an extension of VoLTE makes sense.
From an architecture standpoint, the VoWiFi solution can be an extension of the 3GPP Evolved Packet Core (EPC) as described in 3GPP Technical Specification 23.402 and allows any WiFi network to be used to access the EPC. Obviously there is some infrastructure work to add such as an Evolved Packet Data Gateway or ePDG and VoWiFi-enabled TAS. The phones also need to be VoWiFi enabled, which is happening (iPhone6, Samsung Galaxy S6, LG Spirit LTE, LG G4 Stylus to name a few).
This enables switchover to VoWiFi when indoors, saving you or your small business on your data plan (which is increasingly becoming more important especially as video is becoming more important, which chews up data quite a bit), enables international phone calls to your mobile number, also saving you on your service provider plan, and enables phone number reach to wherever there is WiFi service.
This last point about WiFi service is critical. According to the February 2016 Cisco VNI report, total public WiFi hotspots will grow sevenfold from 2015 to 2020, from 64.2 million to 432.5 million with commercial hotspots growing from 7.5 million to 9.3 million. And it’s expected that VoWiFi is going to surpass VoLTE very soon. VoWiFi as an extension to VoLTE is a very important strategy.
I actually utilized that strategy when I was at Mobile World Congress. Rodgers has VoWiFi and I took a call from one of my Canadian colleagues who was using VoWiFi. It was on a hotel WiFi connection so the price was right! It also sounded very good. Obviously, using a HD Voice codec makes a world of difference.
Read part 2 of this blog titled "The Growing Importance of VoWiFi Beyond VoLTE."