Mobile voice revenues are declining and CSPs (communication service providers) are finding ways to reduce the impact. Data revenues are increasing, but they are unable to compensate for a loss in voice revenues by identical measure. As competition intensifies, CSPs must tailor their offerings so as to offset competitive pressures.
VoWiFi (voice over WiFi) emerges as an enabler of communication medium by a combination of hardware and software over WiFi. Voice calls are sent in the form of data in packets via WiFi network instead of a cellular network. It uses WiFi connection present at a premise or public/private WiFi hotspot (e.g. commercial/private campus, airport, cafe, library, train station, etc.). WiFi can be utilized at places where cellular network is often unavailable/patchy (e.g. basement or houses in remote areas). The basic difference between VoWiFi, VoLTE and traditional calling is that traditional calling uses circuit switched networks for calling which requires maintaining 2g/3g technologies. LTE is a data network which uses an additional network to provide voice calling known as an IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) network. Voice signals are given higher priority within this network arrangement. VoWiFi also uses the same access network, but a separate packet switching (PS) network to ensure quality of service.
VoLTE suffers from the same frequency oscillation as previous generation networks (2g/3g) leading to reduced signal strength. Signals are obstructed by walls, trees etc. which leads to loss of connectivity or poor voice quality. VoWiFi may prove to be a feasible option in this scenario as most subscribers are within WiFi range when they are indoors. CSPs can offload to these WiFi networks and provide good quality service.
CSPs got interested in VoWiFi post launch of Apple's iOS8 and iPhone 6. T-Mobile became first major operator to launch VoWiFi with Apple iPhone 6. MVNO's like Republic Wireless are offering VoWiFi since 2011.
VoWiFi differs from OTT (over the top) services - Skype, etc. VoWiFi doesn't require a third-party app for calling; instead, utilizes device native dialer and number provided by the network operator. VoWiFi is available on phones (Android and iOS) where the CSP has created a VoWiFi infrastructure. Without this investment, VoWiFi services are not accessible to the consumer. Android OS allows the automatic switch to WiFi calling whereas iOS requires permission.
We believe, simply laying down the WiFi infrastructure will not suffice the operators' need in terms of earning revenue and alleviating CAPEX and OPEX cost. Operators require a platform with enhanced features enabling them to monetize from their WiFi offerings and let them deliver differential and innovative services to hasten value and rapidly change their monetizing landscape.
VoWiFi is a communication network based on three components:
1. WiFi network
2. CSPs network infrastructure
3. User's device.
Acceptance of WiFi calling is growing around the world and CSPs are deploying solutions to address needs of subscribers. WiFi calling transforms a WiFi hub into a mobile tower and acts as an extension to CSPs network. These so-called mobile towers extend CSPs network without incurring additional costs of deployment and operation.
Evolving VoWiFi Business Models
• WiFi calling bundled with residential and enterprise plans
• WiFi calling with roaming packages, service bundled with Cable MSO subscription, etc.
• Fermium public WiFi supported by advertising, data analytics and location-based services, to recover WiFi network costs
Voice over WiFi will not guarantee coverage, but when integrated with LTE it has potential to offer improved services. The combination of hardware and software between 3G-WiFi, 4G-WiFi and LTE-WiFi ensure voice travel on different networks efficiently. WiFi calling creates many opportunities for CSPs, not feasible earlier.
Due to its obvious advantages VoWiFi has been adopted by many CSPs across the world.
Sterlite's VoWiFi solution
Sterlite's provides end-to-end integration service to its customers and provides a comprehensive WiFi calling solution. Its major characteristics are:
• HD voice quality & text services with better indoor coverage
• Seamless interworking & voice mobility support between legacy (3G/4G) and WiFi networks
• Secured EAP SIM/AKA authentication over 3GPP enabled SWm via 3GPP AAA
• Device agnostic support - EAP SIM/AKA
• Customized policy decisions and supports different charging models
• Next generation WiFi calling with VoWiFi + VoLTE
• End-to-end connection between device & ePDG via secured IP sec tunnel
• Cost effective with less roaming charges
• Supports law intercept and emergency calling feature
An effective handover and a qualified technology partner like Sterlite can help CSPs meet these network challenges.
VP - WiFi Business
Sterlite Tech (Elitecore), a leading global IT player, today announced, that, Sterlite Tech is positioned in the Visionary quadrant of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Integrated Revenue and Customer Management for CSPs. (*)
The IRCM MQ by Gartner evaluated more than 19 vendors. These vendors are rated on solutions that provide billing, customer care, rating, charging, pricing, partner relationship management, policy management, mediation, self-service, analytics and other related functions.
Sterlite Tech (Elitecore), IRCM product and solutions are aimed at, software needs, managing the customer experience effectively and to monetize networks of CSPs offering 3G/LTE/Wi-Fi/NGN. These solutions are highly flexible and interoperable with third party ecosystems.
Sterlite Tech offers out-of the box service management platform, targeted at a wide variety of CSPs and Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs).
Nikhil Jain, MD, Sterlite Tech – Elitecore says, “Gartner’s recognition is for our broad based product portfolio, which incorporates all IRCM components for CSPs. Elitecore through continuous research has developed solutions that are; network agnostic and support open standards. They enable operators to save on infrastructure cost and offers’ flexibility to scale quickly”.
Sterlite Tech (Elitecore’s) IRCM product portfolio is offered under various brands "Elitecore Billing and Revenue Management”, "Elitecore Wi-Fi Service Management Platform (SMP)" and "Elitecore CSM" (CSM stands for core session management).
Nikhil further adds “Our modular architecture helps CSPs seamlessly integrate with complex network architecture for new roll outs. Elitecore supports various industry accepted delivery models including Built-Operate-transfer (BOT), Managed services, Operations & Maintenance (O&M) and cloud-based hosted model”.
CSPs need to be agile with growing services offering and multiple plans. IRCM is a valuable tool for the CSP to innovate and differentiate. Elitecore has consistently performed well on these parameters and has moved from Niche to Visionary Quadrant.
Sterlite Technologies' Telecom Software Division - Elitecore, is a global IT product and service provider, offering pre-integrated BSS, Packet-Core and Carrier Wi-Fi solution. Elitecore's Revenue and Customer Management (RCM) Platform has been enabling operators to launch, monetize and personalize Next Generation Services.
In a recent success story it enabled a tier-1 operator to roll out its next generation LTE high speed data & voice services. The platform will enable the operator to roll out new business models like, VoLTE, enterprise LTE and LTE roaming, this is in addition to the innovation of single bucket for fixed broadband at home (WiMAX) & mobile LTE voice and data services bundled with device.
Elitecore's NFV ready & virtualized platform comprises of Integrated Policy and Charging, 3GPP AAA, Convergent Billing, Fulfillment, M-Self Care catering to Voice, Data and VAS services supporting multiple networks i.e. LTE, Wi-Fi & WiMAX.
Elitecore's product roadmap alignment with operators' business vision and proven experience in Convergent Billing and Integrated Policy and Charging supports their growth strategy and helped multiple operators to migrate from our legacy billing and operational support. The platform offers high agility for faster time-to-market and feature rich functionalities.
Nikhil Jain, Elitecore's CEO, says: "Our RCM platform delivers the scalability and innovation to monetize network investments quickly and enhance their business performance through increased operational efficiency, agility and faster time-to-market."
Elitecore's LTE RCM is a modular and feature ready platform that offers operators the speed and flexibility to roll out, new monetization and personalization use cases needed to innovate in next generation data services. Moreover the platform significantly contributes to Capex and AMC cost reduction.
Sterlite Technologies' Telecom Software Division Elitecore announces the version release of its NetVertex PCRF v6.6. The platform empowers CSPs with service agility, faster monetization and optimization, a key enabler for the operators to enhance customer experience.
Dhaval Vora, Elitecore's VP - Product Management, Sterlite Technologies, says: "The latest release enables CSPs with innovative use cases such as group plan support, quota sharing, global emergency plan, dynamic QoS, and VoLTE. With the highly scalable platform, our customers can now support 20% more sessions in the same hardware capacity, thereby reducing TCO."
The new Policy Designer featured is a state of the art tool to manage subscriber, subscription & package configuration at 50% reduced time from previous version, simplified configuration of policy form with convenient drop down menus and responsive GUI for easy configuration by even non-technical staff, comprehensively supporting the agile policy management promise.
The new release also includes an enhanced SPR with DDF functionality which enables the distribution of subscribers across multiple SPRs (Subscriber Profile Repository). The DDF functionality has been further improved to support upward scalability of the architecture and enables communication between PCRF & any SPR
Additional key features of NetVertex PCRF v6.6 include: