Reliance Jio has changed the dynamics of the Indian telecom industry with its LTE only network. Jio has the highest 4G availability in the country according to various firms like OpenSignal and Tutela. To recall, Reliance Jio was the first operator to launch VoLTE or Voice over LTE services in India, and now, the telco could be the first operator to launch VoWi-Fi (Voice over Wi-Fi) service in the country. According to the information we have right now, Jio has started testing VoWi-Fi service in circles like Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh & Telangana, Kerala among others. In fact, some users are able to see VoWi-Fi network symbol in the status bar on Apple iPhones, which clearly looks like the telco is in advanced stages of testing. As of now, there's no update on when Jio is going to launch VoWi-Fi service to the public, but with the company testing in its major circles, we might see it happening in the next few months or at the start of 2020. UK-based Vodafone already confirmed that it's working on the technology to implement in India.
Jio VoWi-Fi Service Will Be Limited to its Own Network
In the early stages, Reliance Jio’s VoWi-Fi services will be limited to Jio-to-Jio. However, soon the carrier will expand to other networks too, according to the report which surfaced back in July 2018.
Not only for smartphones, but Jio was said to integrate the VoWi-Fi service in its JioPhone also. Notably, the JioPhone is a feature phone device by the company which offers 4G VoLTE services. In the past quarters, Reliance Jio has boasted of selling more than 200 million JioPhones. Given that the VoWi-Fi technology will be beneficial to people in rural areas where the network is weak, the affordable cost of JioPhone can be a deciding factor in propelling the technology to farther parts of the country.
DoT Also Pushed Recommendations on VoWi-Fi
The concept of Voice over Wi-Fi came into the mainstream when DoT pushed a recommendation on the same. The service allows subscribers with no cellular connectivity to make calls over their network through the use of Wi-Fi. The service will also be useful for people who live in remote locations or are inside a building with thick walls where connectivity issues are commonplace. Also, an ET Telecom report back then highlighted that as per DoT’s norms Jio’s security testing is already completed.
Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Also Testing VoWi-Fi in India
While Reliance Jio is already on the verge of releasing the technology for the users, other incumbent telcos like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone are speeding their operations to get the VoWi-Fi technology in the hands of the users as soon as possible. Vodafone already has similar operations running in other countries. Therefore it is going to be easy for the telco to replicate the infrastructure in India. Also, Sunil Bharti Mittal led Bharti Airtel is in the advanced stages of testing too said Gopal Vittal, Airtel Chief Executive earlier.
Interestingly, this new project of VoWi-Fi infrastructure is based on government’s ‘Public Open Wi-Fi’ project using which the centre wishes to roll out cheap internet and other related internet-based services for the people in remote areas and tier-1 and tier-2 cities. Under this project, DoT will set up 10,000 WiFi hotspots across the country in the first month, and then in the coming three months, the number of WiFi hotspots will escalate to 100,000 in the country.
It was in June that DoT amended the license conditions for allowing internet telephony, meaning that now the carriers could use the same number for internet as well as cellular calling, thus paving the way for VoWi-Fi. As such, Jio is in full capacity to roll out the services to max users since a large chunk of Jio’s userbase resides in the rural areas thanks to the JioPhone.