To gain the upper hand in the telecom industry yet again Reliance Jio Infocomm has declared that it is ready to launch its voice over WiFi services in the coming days. Compared to other telcos like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone India who were still in the testing stages a few weeks ago, Reliance Jio has progressed quickly on the technology and has sped through the competition. The technology which the DoT proposed using the public WiFi hotspots would allow users will little or no cellular connectivity in making calls.
Not only for smartphones, but Jio has also announced that it would integrate the VoWiFi 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 VoWiFi 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.
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 report highlighted that as per DoT’s norms Jio’s security testing is complete as of now.
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 VoWiFi 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.
Meanwhile, having completed the required testing on its own. Reliance Jio is now urging the DoT to get through with all the required testing on the government’s part for the rollout of services.
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.
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 last month 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 VoWiFi. 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.
Jio officials have highlighted that the company will be in a position to roll out the service to these people on JioPhone using an OTA update.