EE revealed more detail of its WiFi Calling service set to debut tomorrow revealing that it will additionally be enabled on any Apple 5C, 5S, 6 and 6Plus smartphone equipped with the latest iOS 8.3 operating system,
Unlike competitive WiFi voice offerings from 02 (Tu Go) and Three (InTouch) EE’s variant is based on the hardware enabled IP based multimedia subsystem (IMS) framework which allows the transportation of data packets across core telco backbones and radio access networks, aping services already available from AT&T and Sprint in the US.
The cost of calls and SMS messages will be deducted from customer’s existing call and SMS allowances with IDD calls charged as normal, the operator said.
‘Customers want to just be able to use their phone for calls and texts without having to think about their signal or which app they have to open, or how they can be reached,’ an unnamed EE spokesperson told Mobile.
‘We have to enable it for each customer in our network to allow them to access the service – once in the core network the services is supported to the same degree of priority as a circuit switched call. This is not a VoIP service as has been known before,’ said the EE spokesperson.
The operator confidently predicts that it will be provisioning up to 100,000 customers per day on WiFi calling, assuming that they actually want it in the first place – it is an opt-in service that is only enabled on request for owners of specific handsets. EE anticipates that there will be an addressable subscriber base of 5m IMS enabled devices from Apple, Microsoft, Samsung and others in the UK by this summer.
IMS is not a new technology and has its fair share of critics. Many operators considered it too expensive and complex to implement in the past leading to a series of cut down versions and compromises, whilst some analysts believe it has taken operators far too long to implement whilst receiving reluctant support from handset manufacturers.