How Airtel, BSNL VoWi-Fi Feature Can Threaten WhatsApp’s Voice Calling

DoT has already issued its recommendation on the VoWi-Fi technology, and Reliance Jio, BSNL and Bharti Airtel are testing the service for a lot its subscribers

  • The VoWi-Fi service will allow users to make calls even with no cellular connectivity
  • The calls will be made over the internet similar to WhatsApp's audio call feature

Ever since the launch of Reliance Jio in the country, the prices of calls have become eventually non-existential in the country. However, while buying certain recharge packs, the people can still factor in some costs for the total price of the unlimited calls. But, there is a new technology brewing in town which might totally need the wipe for calls over a cellular network, and the only thing that we might need could be the internet connection. The technology that we are talking about is VoWi-Fi (Voice Over WiFi), and it is already under testing by a lot of telecom operators. Here are all the details you need to know about this technology and how the rollout of it by Indian telcos might threaten WhatsApp’s position.

Adoption of VoWi-Fi by Major Telcos at Rapid Speed

It is crucial to note that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has been very bullish on the VoWi-Fi technology since day one and it had also issued recommendations to the telecom operators for the same. Following this rollout, a lot of telcos introduced the VoWi-Fi service or at least started testing it. The two or three major names which have already started testing VoWi-Fi in India include Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and BSNL. As the name suggests, the Voice Over WiFi protocol allows the subscribers of the service to make calls over the WiFi instead of a cellular connection. This has many advantages as the person making calls over WiFi does not have to have a cellular network, and he can simply connect a call even while he or she is in a WiFi connection.

VoWi-Fi to Help Make Calls in Areas With Poor Cellular Connectivity

Given this use case, the government is especially keen on launching the service for rural areas with low cellular connectivity. But, the catch is that WhatsApp already offers something which competes directly with VoWi-Fi. The Facebook-owned messaging app already comes with a voice calling feature which allows you to call a contact over the internet, thus blowing the use case of VoWi-Fi. The issue here is that when VoWi-Fi comes to existence for the majority of subscribers, there won’t be a need for any third-party applications to make calls over the internet.

Given this situation, it is entirely possible that WhatsApp’s major feature may go unused for a lot of people. On the other hand, the simplicity of using a VoWi-Fi feature right from the phone dialler might attract a lot of users wishing to make a quick internet phone call. As such, although VoWi-Fi still has few hurdles to cross before it rolls out in a full-fledged manner in India, but when it does, it might threaten WhatsApp’s pre-existing audio call feature which it introduced a few years ago. Now whether the consumer adopts radically to VoWi-Fi as it did for WhatsApp remains to be seen.

Arpit spends his day closely following the telecom and tech industry. A music connoisseur and a night owl, he also takes a deep interest in the Indian technology start-up scene and spends rest of his time spilling poetry and stories on paper.

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Nikhil SharmaSayantanFarazSpunky ChennaiAsish Recent comment authors
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OffTopic: To JIO users . Long back JIO is allowing JIO to JIO calls after the expiry of the plan validity. Any one confirm on the same. is it working till date.

JIO , Airtel
Spunky Chennai
Spunky Chennai

Jio to jio free calls work for 1-2 weeks after plan expiry


Not anymore… it worked till June (Jio to Jio calls only for 28 days after expiry of plan)
They stopped that benefit last month

Nikhil Sharma
Nikhil Sharma

Yes, true.


Off Topic : Only 57 million people on Vodafone-Idea are using 4G network. Very very dismal number. Needs to improve a lot.

Chakri Kudikala

Woah. It used to be over 75 million last quarter. Massive dip, Airtel still has over 80 million, right?


I am not sure, it’s just Vodafone numbers or Idea numbers. Email can confirm it. Yes Airtel has 85 million I guess. Most of the people switched from Airtel to Jio and Vodafone-Idea to Airtel. That’s why dip in Airtels overall subscription is not that big.


After deployment of 900Mhz and 2500Mhz for 4G in many circles, 4G subscribers will increase. They should go till 120-150million in March 2020 in order to survive. Corporate plans will have to make huge role on that front. Otherwise its difficult.


No it’s 84.8 million, 57 million is in q1 2019. 84.8 in q120.please check properly q1 20 is on extreme right of table

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