According to Vodacom South Africa, the company has made the first ever commercial voice over WiFi (VoWiFi) call in South Africa.
Vodacom reveals that while typically reserved for data, the move to use WiFi technology to carry voice traffic will mean better call quality for consumers. By effectively integrating WiFi into its network as another voice carrier Vodacom is ensuring a seamless voice experience no matter what the connection (2G, 3G, 4G/LTE, WiFi).
The first call, made at the company’s Midrand office in June; however only revealed now, was placed by Vodacom’s Network Engineering Officer, Beverly Ngwenya. She used the call to contact Vodacom’s Chief Technology Officer Andries Delport.
“No matter how prepared you are when you switch on a new service; it’s always a little nerve-wracking. The first thing I did was call Andries to let him know we’d been successful and everything was working exactly as planned,” said Ngwenya, who was responsible for the deployment of the service.
Commenting on the achievement Delport said: “Our network team works hard to ensure we’re always one-step ahead and leading the adaption of new mobile technology. This was the case with Voice over LTE (VoLTE), which we launched earlier this year, as well as when we first launched our LTE/4G network in 2012. Voice over WiFi is the next step in ensuring the best quality voice calls for our customers.”
The service is currently live across the Vodacom network, according to the company. “There are a number of consumer benefits that come with WiFi calling. One of the most significant is the ability to make a call using your cellphone number with no need for additional apps,” said Delport.
According to Vodacom, VoWiFi differs from other applications that allow voice calling over a data network, in that it uses the built-in voice dialling feature of the phone and thus your normal cellphone number to make a call. At present there are only a small number of test in the country that have the ability to make VoWiFi calls. However, Vodacom is working closely with Samsung on a software update which will be released to the public once final testing is complete.
Vodacom revealed that VoWiFi technology will also be able to assist in improving coverage where normal cell signals battle to reach, such as inside big office blocks or in the basement of shopping centres. In the future VoWiFi will also offer a solution for remote sites that have WiFi coverage like guest lodges based in game reserves.
Calls made over a WiFi network will be billed using existing minutes. No data costs will be incurred when making a WiFi call.