Ericsson targets non-smartphone devices for wifi calling

wifi abstract

Operators will soon be given the opportunity to bring calling capabilities to wifi-only devices, should Ericsson’s latest announcement take off.

The Swedish kit vendor has unveiled an addition to its suite of wifi calling solutions, which essentially brings voice calling service capabilities to currently incompatible devices. The move by Ericsson looks like it will be giving operators a chance to get a slice of the OTT-voice calling pie, by allowing tablets, PCs and other wifi-only platforms to make calls to any other connected device or phone.

This may be seen as a belated move to help telcos into the OTT voice industry, when a number of voice-based apps are already long-established in the space – like Skype, Viber and Apple’s FaceTime. Looking beyond existing leaders in the field, there are a number of other messaging and social media applications looking to expand into voice; with Whatsapp and Facebook both building calling functionality into their service offerings.

While not explicitly mentioned by Ericsson, it could be inferred that this announcement is intended to form part of a broader attempt by the telecoms industry to regain revenues from voice services. With a number of telcos launching voice over LTE (VoLTE) and voice over wifi (VoWifi) in 2015, HD calling and more concerted efforts to upgrade voice are being targeted by operators across the globe.

Speaking on the launch of its multi-device wifi calling solutions, Ericsson’s head of product area for network functions, Anders Olin, says native wifi calling will help telcos deliver a new user experience.

“While natively integrated Wi-Fi calling in smartphones has been commercially available for some time, both consumers and operators can benefit from extending this functionality to multiple devices,” he said. “We are excited to launch WiFi calling for multi-device, which is a clear example of how Ericsson’s technology leadership is helping to create differentiated user experiences.”

Ericsson says the multi-device wifi calling functionality forms part of a broader wifi calling solution, which also includes support for the LTE evolved packet core (EPC), IMS and OSS/BSS systems.

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