Friday, December 16, 2011

My Wi-Fi Offload

To get a better idea of how much data is actually offloaded to Wi-Fi, I downloaded NetCounter, an app available for free from the Android Marketplace.

The reality is that most mobile operators can only count bytes that traverse their packet data infrastructure (SGSN/GGSN). Typically they can't see what gets routed directly over Wi-Fi (perhaps there's an exception if using CarrierIQ).

So how much data actually goes over Wi-Fi versus the cellular network?

The vast majority of my data is over Wi-Fi. For the past two months, I have logged 1,907 mb through my smartphone - with 205 mb over cellular and 1,702 over Wi-Fi.

Percentage-wise, that's a 90/10% split.

Granted I'm Wi-Fi savvy, plus I'm using T-Mobile's Wi-Fi Calling service which encourages me to turn on, and leave on, Wi-Fi when I'm at home and in the office.

Also I spend the vast majority of my waking time within range of Wi-Fi both at home and in the office.

Of course, this is a sample size of one, but still quite telling. Wi-Fi is certainly the work-horse of my mobile internet experience.

Nielsen - Telling the US smartphone story

I’m always on the look-out for a good resource which highlights what’s really happening in the mobile market. Recently I’ve been turning to quarterly reports published by consumer preferences company Nielsen.

The most recent Nielsen Q3 2011 Mobile Survey report is packed with interesting tidbits on the US smartphone market.

I particularly like their chart on smartphone ownership by OS by manufacturer:

In another post on another blog, I commented how the word “voice” didn’t appear in the report until page 24… a testament to how we use our smartphones today – as mobile internet tools, messaging machines, game-stations, and apparently last as an actual phone.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Republic Wireless turns mobile world upside down

Republic Wireless... heard of them? It's a little company with a big concept.

You may have heard about their $19/month 'unlimited' service offer in the US. This is certainly what's garnering headlines.

But for mobile industry watchers, it's not the price but the approach which is turning the mobile model upside-down.

The concept is that people spend the majority of their time indoors (home, office) and within range of Wi-Fi.

Rather than relying on expense and limited cellular spectrum, Republic 'requires' subscribers to use their service predominately over Wi-Fi. Yes, they offer a 'fall back' to Sprint when out and about, but per their customer service agreement, Republic will cut you off if you use too much of Sprint's network. Wow.

There have been plenty of discussions about turning Wi-Fi into a global, mobile network. Trilogy Partner's CEO John Stanton said he spoke with Steve Jobs in 2006/2007 about creating Apple's own mobile network based on Wi-Fi.

And now Republic has taken such a service to market.

We've known for quite some time that the majority of mobile usage happens indoors. And it's these indoor locations which are most difficult to cover from outdoor macro cell towers. This problem, combined with the compelling rise of smartphones as a constant companion, has fueled the rise of Wi-Fi usage within mobile networks.

What Republic is showing is that a 'mobile service' doesn't need to be exclusive to cellular spectrum or radio towers.

In this case, cellular is a service delivered 'over the top' of Wi-Fi. The implications are profound.

Will Republic succeed? Unlikely. They don't have the brand awareness/marketing firepower to make a dent in the hyper-competitive US mobile market.

But as US operators look to lower costs while trying to address massive data demand, they will quickly realize Wi-Fi is for more than just simple data offload.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Smart Wi-Fi drives data offload

Based on data recently released by Validas, which analyzes the mobile-phone bills of consumers, T-Mobile looks to be the only US mobile operator able to control its data surges from increased smartphone usage.

An article in Fierce Wireless reported Validas' research compiled between June 2010 and July 2011. It showed Verizon with the highest percentage of increase in data usage with AT&T second and Sprint in third place. Yet T-Mobile had a slight decrease.

Is T-Mobile able to increase data offload because of Smart Wi-Fi? It is the only operator of the four with an active and successful Wi-Fi data offload service -- Wi-Fi Calling, based on Kineto's Smart Wi-Fi technology.  Smart Wi-Fi gives T-Mobile subscribers a reason to connect their smartphones to Wi-Fi – and thus offload the cellular network.  So it would follow that its offload is very positively impacted and that is what sets it apart from its competitors.

With data surges developing into a major issue for mobile operators, competitive solutions abound. Could T-Mobile have found the one that truly has an impact? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Wi-Fi Calling for Emergency Response

On the T-Mobile blog the other day, there was a post about its Persistent Communication Solutions powered by T-Mobile’s Wi-Fi Calling for Government technology. Have you heard about it? 

It's a really valuable and important program as it allows first responders – including police, firefighters and EMTs --
"to stay connected during emergencies with the same phone they use every day, without having to switch to a different device, even when commercial wireless networks are out of service. It also enables wireless communication where no commercial networks exist – so first responders can stay connected even in the most remote areas."  

You can read more about it at the T-Mobile blog post.

It ties in for us regular folk, too. As I blogged the other day, Wi-Fi Calling came in quite handy in recent weeks post-earthquake on the east coast and also during and after the Hurricane Irene havoc for people who had electricity and wanted to reach out to friends and family to check in. Cell towers got knocked out and networks were overly congested. Wi-Fi Calling gave many some peace of mind.

It's great to learn about T-Mobile's programs like this -- it's not something we often hear about. Have you been in a situation where Wi-Fi Calling really helped you? Tell me about it in the comments.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Rogers, Fido expand international wi-fi calling

It looks like MobileSyrup got an early tip that Canada-based mobile operators Rogers and Fido have launched an “International Wi-Fi Calling” add-on. For operators concerned about preserving roaming revenues, here’s a great way to capture additional value from users traveling abroad.

Rogers has been gradually growing its Wi-Fi Calling service, starting with an offer geared toward students and expanding wi-fi calling to address business’ needs. According to the article, the new add-on gives subscribers with capable phones that ability to use these phones during international travel.

They are charging either $25 or $40 for 30 days of service plans for this. According to the article, $25 gives you international roaming rates and unlimited Wi-Fi calling back to Canada. For $40, you get unlimited local calling and long distance, plus Unlimited Wi-Fi calling. The fine print states that “Calls made back to Canada over Wi-Fi will not be charged against shared roaming plan minutes.”

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Wi-Fi Calling Post-Earthquake

Mobile phones provide a level of accessibility and convenience we've never had before. And in times of crisis, they are the first things we look to in order to connect and get reassurance. Of course, that's why all the mobile operators reported clogged networks in the Northeast US Tuesday when nearly the entire East Coast into parts of the Midwest started rumbling from the earthquake.

Mobile operators took to Twitter to encourage subscribers to try email and other ways of communication. But many T-Mobile customers had an edge with Wi-Fi Calling. Through Twitter, we read first-hand accounts about how Wi-Fi Calling helped families and friends to connect.

Here's just a sampling of the tweets about how helpful Wi-Fi Calling was post earthquake:

@johnashtonedgar: @TMobile #Tmobile Wi-Fi calling would also help alleviate the stress on the network in earthquake affected areas. #EastCoastEarthquake

@NuShrike ironically, I'm hearing it's #WiFi calling that still works on East Coast @TmoNews @TMobile @kinetowireless @alfranken @SenatorSanders

@MadBlackPoet This wifi calling is very useful in times like these. Damn, cell towers jammed.

@Luton13 #tmobile wifi calling working like a champ...thank you magenta for innovating even when towers are not working

@signofthegrind @MsCat215 most cells are down or overloaded. Unless u use wifi calling

@JGarc1187 Put that android or blackberry to work... Use wifi calling.. It works to make calls and text..I hope everyone is ok...

@Brownnotes215 If you can't make calls use wifi calling to make calls

@msparisknight Wow that earthquake was crazy! Thankful for wifi calling

@HaisamIdo Thank u @TMobile for providing free Wi-fi Calling on my #android phone. I was able to send SMS during #earthquake !!!

@FACEofDIAMONDS - Now calling Mom using Wi-Fi calling. If you need to reach loved ones with no service I can help you through Wi-Fi calling.

Follow these tweets and more at

Have you had any experiences where Wi-Fi Calling helped you when you really needed it? Tell us in the comments.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Not Resting on our Laurels

Second quarter was a strong and positive one for Kineto. We're not resting on our laurels, mind you, but I do want to share them with you.

By the end of Q2 2011, Kineto's Smart Wi-Fi Application was officially on 15 additional Android smartphones. This brings the total number of Smart Wi-Fi-enabled smartphones to more than 30 from the industry's leading manufacturers, including HTC, Huawei, LG, Motorola, Samsung and ZTE.

Other highlights:

•  Orange UK has expanded its Signal Boost service (based on Smart Wi-Fi) to offer the following nine smartphones: Samsung Galaxy S II and Galaxy Ace; the LG Optimus Me; HTC Wildfire S, Cha Cha and Desire S; along with the Orange-branded Barcelona, Monte Carlo and Stockholm.

•  T-Mobile USA introduced six new Wi-Fi Calling-enabled smartphones, including the Samsung Dart™, Samsung Gravity™ SMART, Samsung Exhibit™ 4G; HTC Sensation™ 4G, T-Mobile® G2x™ with Google™ and the T-Mobile® Sidekick® 4G, providing customers with enhanced network coverage and the ability to experience high-quality voice and data on their home Wi-Fi networks.

•  Huawei will now pre-load Kineto's Smart Wi-Fi Application onto select new Android-based smartphones.

Want to keep up to date on Kineto activities? Subscribe to this blog's feed and follow Kineto on Twitter @kinetowireless.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Part of a Winning Team

ZTE has been on a bit of a roll lately. The company opened a major network testing and development center in London and quickly followed up that announcement with another that it shipped 35 million mobile handsets in the first half of 2011, up 30% on-year, and it's smartphone sales grew by 400% in the first six months of the year to 5 million units.

It's a strong partner, and we're proud to see ZTE supports Smart Wi-Fi in the market as well. The company is pre-loading Kineto's Smart Wi-Fi Application onto select new Android-based ZTE smartphones, starting with the Skate, coming soon in the UK.

Wu Sa, director of Mobile Device Operations for ZTE UK, said: "Devices such as the ZTE Skate are proving very popular with both operators and consumers, and we're happy to be working with Kineto to integrate Smart Wi-Fi into devices for carriers that want to take advantage of the benefits of UMA."

ZTE is on a winning streak, and Smart Wi-Fi is now part of that streak.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Tesco boosts coverage in stores

Okay, their goal probably wasn't specifically to 'boost coverage', but this week, Tesco, the UK’s largest retailer, announced it began trialing free Wi-Fi throughout its stores.  

I’m sure Tesco can use Wi-Fi for many internal inventory and store management requirements.  Plus I suspect they want to try location-based things to put ads on people’s smartphones as they walk the isles.

But for Orange UK subscribers with Signal Boost, Tesco just made sure everyone gets great in-building coverage when they are doing their shopping.  

You don’t need a femtocell for that.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Smartphone owners are savvy about their Wi-Fi and want more of it

The proof is in the survey of 420 smartphone owners in the US that we commissioned in May 2011 and was conducted by MarketTools® Zoomerang®:
  • 74 percent of smartphone users in the United States are interested in a mobile operator-provided service that uses Wi-Fi to provide lower cost calls.
  • 72 percent of smartphone users are interested in an application that uses Wi-Fi to improve cellular coverage.
  • Nearly nine out of 10 (89%) of respondents have smartphones with Wi-Fi.
  • 77 percent have Wi-Fi at home; 54 percent have it at their place of work.
  • 62 percent of people who own smartphones with Wi-Fi use the Wi-Fi four or more days each week.
  • 30 percent say they use Wi-Fi because it is faster than the cellular network; 19 percent because it is easy to access the internet.
  • 30 percent have smartphones with a Google Android operating system (OS); 26 percent use Apple iPhone OS; and 22 percent use a RIM OS.
As we all read about in tech and general publications regularly, smartphones have become the dominant mobile phone technology, and their users have aggressively embraced Wi-Fi for a variety of reasons. This trend appears to be continuing on its upswing with no sign of abatement.

Cost and coverage continue to be key issues plaguing the mobile industry, and solutions that address those issues are of great interest to subscribers. This survey finds that subscribers are truly interested in utilizing Wi-Fi capabilities more and are open to operator-provided services.

There are plenty more stats and information about customers by operator and by smartphone type available at

If you've been following this blog for a while, you may recall that Kineto commissioned similar 2010 smartphone surveys in the US and UK.

Do these 2011 survey results coincide with what you think is going on in the market? Tell us what you think and what in the comments.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Amplifying Orange UK's Signal Boost

Did you read about the event, Amplify 2011, we hosted in June in London for media and analysts? It was an opportunity for us to talk about Smart Wi-Fi and for Orange UK to talk about it's successful Signal Boost service.

Watch this video from the event:

I've written before about some of the highlights from the presentation by Orange UK's Director of Product Marketing Paul Jevons. Read more about them in my previous post about the event.

Some other highlights from the evening that you can watch and hear for yourself in the video include:

- Kineto showcased some of the nearly 30 Android devices on which our Smart Wi-Fi application is available, including smartphones from Huawei, HTC, Samsung and LG.

- Jevons talks about how "brilliantly simple" Signal Boost is because of the Smart Wi-Fi app

- Jevons talks about Everything Everywhere's plans to "roll that [Signal Boost] out across the T-Mobile base in the UK later this year."

- Orange UK reports "genuine and material improvements" in customer satisfaction and retention

- 80% of customers say it is easy to set up and really easy to use; and more customers say it's becoming an influence in their decision of handsets

Watch the Amplify 2011 video for more. After you see it, come back here and let me know what you think. Did you learn anything new?

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Pitfalls and the mystery of femtocell deployments

Reporting from Avren's Femtocell World Summit, Light Reading's Michelle Donegan captured some of the pitfalls of femtocell deployments.
"Thilo Kirchinger, Vodafone's principal connected home manager, said that the need for indoor voice coverage is the trigger for most customers to buy a femtocell."
It remains a mystery why a consumer would 'buy' a femtocell. But as long as they are being sold, femtocells will be relegated to a 1% solution.
Mr. Kirchinger also commented that "data offload is not a proposition that can be sold to customers."
No surprise here, customers don't care about offload, that's strictly an operational benefit. The trick is creating incentives that change user behavior. T-Mobile US now offers free calls over Wi-Fi as incentive to get subscribers to use Wi-Fi and reap the benefits of offload.
"Vodafone Greece's new products, innovation and wholesale group product manager, Polychronis Tzerefos, said that femtocells are a customer-retention tool, not an acquisition tool, and that operators should expect to subsidize them heavily."
I think the consensus in many other markets is that femtos work best for retention - as a tool for the 'save queue'. Complain you plan to leave your operator, and they overnight a femtocell to your house. The math is easy.

Putting a femto in a pre-sales retail environment raises some uncomfortable questions. If your coverage is so great, why do you have a femtocell product? If I have coverage problems, will you give me a femto?
"Among the technical challenges the operator encountered, Tzerefos said there is lot of integration to be done with existing business systems, customer relationship management, business intelligence and customer self-care portals."
This is a story we've heard time and time again. Many focus on the cost of the femtocell as the key item, but there is a tremendous amount of back-end integration and cost associated with deploying them.
"And as for marketing the femto service, Tzerefos shared that there was much internal debate about, "How do you sell the customer coverage when you're supposed to have the best coverage in Greece? How do we explain they need a solution?"

And this is the beauty of a Smart Wi-Fi solution. It's an application that puts the customer in charge. If they have coverage problems, they can use their Wi-Fi to fix it. In today's self-service environment, this is one message which resonates clearly.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Femtos still on the sideline

In an article published this month on Fierce Wireless Europe, Paul Rasmussen writes what many in the industry already know, that femtocells are still on the sidelines.

Mr. Rasmussen quotes Ovum analyst Steven Hartley saying femtos remain to costly and complex for a mass-market coverage solution.

Speaking quite candidly, Ericsson CTO Hakan Eriksson stated "the femtocell solves no p
roblem from my viewpoint."

Pointing out the obvious, Mr. Eriksson goes on to say that "all the devices that are generating mobile data are Wi-Fi enabled."

Not a good coverage play, not a good offload play... it's no wonder Femtos remain on the sidelines.

With more than 200m Wi-Fi access points installed in the world today, it seems that Wi-Fi is the dominate in-building wireless technology.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Boosting Signal Boost

This week Kineto held an event in the UK to announce the availability of new Android smartphones with Orange’s Signal Boost service.

Signal Boost, as the name implies, uses Wi-Fi to boost the mobile signal of Orange customers when they are at home or in the office. Signal Boost was quietly introduced to the market a couple years ago, and has become key service offer.

Director of product marketing Paul Jevons said a few words about the success of the Signal Boost service. Here are some of the highlights:
  • The Signal Boost customer base has grown by more than 50% in the last 6 months, carrying millions of calls every month.
  • Signal Boost has “positive customer retention,” and customers say that “there is an improvement in coverage and call quality” when using the service.
  • Customers appreciate Signal Boost. 50% say the Signal Boost feature influenced their handset choice, and 80% rate it as “easy to set up.”
  • A “large portion” of active Signal Boost customers consider it “an essential feature.”
The event was hosted at Tutton’s in Covent Garden. Their private, underground “vault” rooms were an ideal place to highlight how Wi-Fi and Orange’s Signal Boost service can bring mobile services anywhere.

The event resulted in a lot of great coverage in Telecom TV, Total Telecom, Recombu, Pocket Lint, CNET and more.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A bit more of Rogers’ Wi-Fi Calling Service

A new article on explains Rogers' service to customers.  Read How to WiFi Enable your Cell Phone: A Review of Rogers new WiFi Calling for Business.

Still not sure how it works? Read more about the technology at and

Monday, May 16, 2011

Would free calls make things better?

There was an article the other day on Fierce Wireless entitled "Enterprise not thrilled with Wi-Fi offload strategies."

The article alludes to enterprise IT networks carrying employees' smartphone data traffic over their Wi-Fi infrastructure.

This is a fundamental problem with offload - it's not a consumer (or business) feature/benefit. Offload is something that is for mobile operators. In return for providing offload, the mobile operator ought to provide something in return.

Would free calls make things better?

Last week, T-Mobile introduced free calls over Wi-Fi via its Wi-Fi Calling service. Now domestic calls to any number, placed over Wi-Fi, don't count against the subscriber's plan minutes or bucket.

In effect, T-Mobile is offering its customers a benefit for using Wi-Fi.

Rather than begging or pleading with people to turn on Wi-Fi for offload, T-Mobile is providing a positive incentive to use Wi-Fi (free calling); and in return, T-Mobile gets the benefit of offload.

Oh yeah, they get other benefits too. Wi-Fi Calling boosts in-building coverage - and happy subscribers with good coverage churn less.

It seems like one operator has finally hit on a plan to actually increase Wi-Fi usage in the home and office.

Friday, May 13, 2011

T-Mobile rolls out free calls over Wi-Fi

Once again, scooped everyone else with the news that T-Mobile is announcing FREE calls over Wi-Fi starting May 13th. Per the internal memo in the article, it seems like there’s no doubt. A few calls today to local shops in Silicon Valley confirms it.

What does this mean? Free means free. For subscribers with Wi-Fi Calling capable phones that are powered by Kineto’s Smart Wi-Fi Application, calls over Wi-Fi will now NOT count against the plan bucket. Previously, calls over Wi-Fi were charged like calls over cellular.

Since initially launching last November, T-Mobile has focused its Wi-Fi Calling service on reducing churn by improving coverage and customer satisfaction.

By expanding Wi-Fi Calling to free calling plus better coverage, T-Mobile is able to drive offload by providing positive incentives for people to turn on Wi-Fi at home and in the office – the two locations which account for 50-66% of mobile data usage.

T-Mobile’s Wi-Fi Calling service gives subscribers what they want: better service at a lower cost.

For mobile service providers looking to encourage Wi-Fi offload, Smart Wi-Fi delivers powerful incentives that change consumer behavior.

I think there are some big implications about telephony, the future of voice, even femtocells, in this service offer. And certainly, T-Mobile continues to lead the pack in customer service. See what subscribers are saying at

What do you think about this announcement? Let me know in the comments.

Forbes Reports on Impact T-Mobile / AT&T Merger on T-Mo’s Beloved Wi-Fi Calling

Forbes Tech Reporter Elizabeth Woyke explored what the proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile would mean for Wi-Fi Calling, T-Mobile's service that has attracted much love and attention from subscribers and industry watchers.

Many customers rely on Wi-Fi Calling to better manage their wireless costs, she writes, and it's an interesting topic to keep an eye on.

Read the Forbes article and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

More Smart Wi-Fi for Orange UK Subscribers

We've been hearing about some subscriber demand for more UMA/GAN-enabled devices from Orange UK. And, as reported in, Orange has delivered the HTC Desire S Android with Orange's Signal Boost service.

Can you hear the applause?

This is the second Android phone available from Orange with its Signal Boost (UMA) service. It's now listed on the Orange site. The other is the LG Optimus One, another strong Android smartphone. Plus, Orange also added the Nokia E5, which is optimal for business and personal use. Signal Boost is based on Smart Wi-Fi.

Mobile Burn's reviewer is a fan of the Desire. You can read his full review and watch the video tour at

Monday, May 02, 2011

AT&T CTO: Subsidizing femtocells won’t fix our network

Wow, that's a pretty blatant statement, and it's the title of an article by Devindra Hardawar at Venture Beat.

We've been following the femtocell market since it's inception four years ago. 

It's clear the bloom has come off the rose, and that the reality of what femtocells can, and can't, do is clear.

I think what's really being said is that in places where the femtocell is deployed a long way from a macro signal, things work pretty well.

But in areas with marginal or good AT&T coverage, the femtocell introduces more interference, outweighing any benefit of added capacity.

In addition, by drawing a line in the sand saying "data on femtos count against data caps," AT&T has clearly pigeon-holed them into 'save' solution for people with zero coverage.

What about data offload? What about places with marginal coverage?

Certainly a Smart Wi-Fi solution would work. Wi-Fi, completely agnostic to the macro cellular network, doesn't interfere at all. Plus it's already in the places where people want coverage - the home and office. And it helps to drive offload, because 50-66% of mobile data usage occurs in the home/office.

We could have this problem licked in no time.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Signal Boost is “Brilliant”

There was an interesting article in The Independent the other day. The author, David Phelan, wrote a piece called “How I FINALLY found a way to make a phone call.”

He pointed out the problems that a lot of Londoners have – even in the middle of town, coverage is spotty. It’s Orange’s Signal Boost (powered by UMA and Kineto’s Smart Wi-Fi Application) actually solves the problem in the end.

“This story, you’ll be glad to know, has a happy ending in the form of UMA. This stands for Unlicensed Mobile Access or as I think of it, Ultimately My Answer. It’s a service which is unique to one network but luckily, it’s Orange. It connects my phone to my wi-fi for calls, so poor GSM signal is irrelevant. But it’s a brilliant trick. Now my phone just, you know rings.”

Friday, April 22, 2011

More satisfied customers

(Click on image if need to view it bigger for reading.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wi-Fi Continues to Dominate

According to new research from IHS iSuppli, shipments of electronic products with embedded WLAN will exceed one billion units for the first time in 2011.

As Fierce reported:

"The firm said that number of connected devices will continue to grow exponentially--surpassing 2 billion in 2015--as wide local area network (WLAN) connectivity increasingly becomes a standard feature in devices. IHS iSuppli said consumer electronics, computer, communications and automotive products with built-in WLAN connectivity such as Wi-Fi will reach 1.2 billion units in 2011, a figure that represents a 35.8 percent increase from 880.4 billion in 2010."

Clearly, Wi-Fi is the dominant in-building technology around the world. We read more and more about the growth of Wi-Fi every day. And with Smart Wi-Fi, it is the perfect complement to the macro cellular network.

Why? Well, don't just take my word for it!

"In today's world of connected electronics, consumers expect seamless access to Internet communications, services and content in any place and at any time," said Dr. Jagdish Rebello, senior director and principal analyst for communications and consumer electronics at IHS in a press release.

Need more proof points for the importance and value of Wi-Fi to the mobile network? Here are just a few. A quick web search will reveal many more:

Do you think Wi-Fi is fast becoming a necessity for mobile operators to integrate? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

“Wi-Fi Calling is Awesome”

That’s what Sascha Segan, lead analyst for PCMag Mobile, concluded after his business trip to Barcelona for Mobile World Congress 2011 and subsequent family vacation around Spain.

Segan writes:
“Wi-Fi calling is awesome. Making phone calls while roaming usually costs $1 or more per minute. Skype is one way around this. T-Mobile's Wi-Fi calling feature can be even better, as it lets you make and receive calls using your U.S. phone number and standard T-Mobile service plan.”
Need I say more?

But I will. Our team who attended MWC 2011 also had lower numbers for our expense reports because we were able to stay in contact with our families and colleagues cheaply with Wi-Fi Calling. For international travel, it’s a no brainer.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Wi-Fi May Just be the Glue to Hold AT&T, T-Mobile Networks Together

Dan Jones of LightReading, a tough critic of the mobile operator landscape, taped this brief video at CTIA 2011 in which he discusses how T-Mobile and AT&T can tie together their networks in the early days of the merger.

He says the combination of assets - AT&T's vast network of public wi-fi hotspots and T-Mobile's Wi-Fi Calling service - can be brought together ahead of the hardware for the 3G and eventually LTE networks: "Think of Wi-Fi as the glue that will hold it all together before we get to fourth generation services."

Watch the video below. What do you think about Dan's prediction?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The 0.2% Solution

At the “Path to 4G” event hosted by Fierce Wireless, and held in conjunction with the CTIA 2011 show in Orlando, Sprint’s vp of network development Iyad Tarazi disclosed that the company has 0.1 million femtocells deployed.

I think the word ‘disclosed’ is key.

0.1 million (aka 100,000) femtocells is nothing to be proud of, but honestly, I don't know what Sprint's expectations were.

Let’s consider the history.  Sprint launched their ‘Airave’ to much fanfare in August 2008.  At the time, the devices were featured prominently in their retail shops.  And in August, 2010, Sprint actually offered to give them away for FREE.

So after three years and giving them away for FREE, Sprint’s been able to actually pawn off 0.1 million devices.   With 50 million subscribers, this works out to a paltry 0.2% of the subscriber base.

How many of these units are actually active?  Many people I speak with who got a femtocell (not necessarily from Sprint) say they tried it and discarded it.

Compare this with T-Mobile’s Wi-Fi Calling service, which has roughly 5 million subscribers.  Of course they aren’t active all the time, but it’s certainly a lot more than 0.1m.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

T-Mobile Helps Customers Stay Connected to Japan

T-Mobile US announced last week that it will waive call charges, Wi-Fi Calling and text message charges to and from Japan, in an effort to provide some relief to customers with loved ones in the ravaged country.

Here are the terms of the offer:
  • T-Mobile USA is enabling phone calls to Japan for postpaid customers without charges for international long distance through March 31, 2011, and retroactive to March 11, 2011.
  • T-Mobile postpaid customers can make Wi-Fi calls to and from Japan free of charge through March 31, 2011, and retroactive to March 11, 2011.
  • Text (SMS) messaging is also free of charge to and from Japan for T-Mobile postpaid customers through March 31, 2011 and retroactive to March 11, 2011. 
 Plus, customers can donate $10 by texting "REDCROSS" to 90999. There's no charge for those texts.

We just wanted to help spread the word, and our hearts go out to those people in need.

Three, Two, One, Launch!

At CTIA yesterday, T-Mobile announced three new phones with Wi-Fi Calling.

First up, the lightening fast G2x from LG (aka Optimus 2x).  This new device sports the Tegra dual-core processor from NVIDIA.  As the review said, “applications literally felt like they were opening and closing instantly.”  Throw in Wi-Fi Calling, and this phone is sure to be a winner.

Next up is the “Astound”, or Nokia C7.  Of course Nokia’s position in the US market is slim.  But after using the phone on the Nokia stand at CTIA, I have to say it isn’t half bad.  It’s not a ‘web’ phone like Android or iPhone, but as Sasha Segan suggests, it could be “T-Mobile’s best feature phone”.  Best feature:  Wi-Fi Calling!

Finally is the new Sidekick 4G from Samsung.  In July 2010, T-Mobile asked loyal Sidekick customers to “stay tuned for exciting updates in the months ahead.”  I guess they meant 9 months ahead, because the Sidekick franchise has been reborn with this cool new devices – which includes Wi-Fi Calling.

It's clear that T-Mobile is continuing to aggressively pursue their Wi-Fi Calling advantage in the Market.  More than half of all phones available on T-Mobile's website today are Wi-Fi Calling enabled.  It looks like this is a winner.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

T-Mobile, AT&T and Me

Sunday’s announcement that AT&T was going to buy smaller rival T-Mobile did come as a surprise to many in the mobile industry.

At a reception for the CTIA Wireless show being held in Orlando (ironically hosted by Sprint), talk of the merger was a central topic for the night.

But rather than thinking about it in macro terms, I wanted to think about what it would mean to me, both a T-Mobile subscriber and being involved in providing Smart Wi-Fi (aka Wi-Fi Calling) to T-Mobile.

One of the reasons I’m passionate about Wi-Fi Calling is that it’s a critical tool for me.  I get one/two bars of edge service in my house and virtually no 3G.  Yet every time I pick up my phone at home, my signal is strong because of Wi-Fi.

So I was pleased when I saw Sasha Sagan’s post yesterday titled “The Five Best T-Mobile Features ATT Must Keep”, I was excited to see others excited about Wi-Fi Calling:

2. Wi-Fi Calling. AT&T and Verizon say their networks are so good that you should never need a backup. T-Mobile is humble enough to admit that, yeah, sometimes a Wi-Fi signal is better than a cellphone signal. T-Mobile's Wi-Fi calling solution is the best in the business. It's a lifeline in weak-signal areas, and it saves you big bucks abroad.

The others are good ideas too (‘Stock’ Android devices, true HSPA+, “Even More Plus”, and Great Customer Service), and are important to me as a consumer.  But I'm amazed by the number of tweets that are directed at having AT&T perpetuate Wi-Fi Calling.

@LunaticSX: It’d be awesome if T-Mobile USA’s UMA WiFi calling ( ) became available to all AT&T customers, as well.
@gwapz: I just hope AT&T adopts T-Mobile UMA features.
@mikethewhite: @TMobile Please don't let At&t ruin #wificalling it's your best feature by far. (and non contract even more plus plans)

In the short term, Wi-Fi Calling should continue unabated.  It’s a significant sales and customer care advantage for T-Mobile.  Longer term, I’ve always believed that AT&T was an ideal operator to benefit from tighter Wi-Fi integration.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wi-Fi Calling for Canada Businesses

Three cheers for Canada's Rogers Wireless ... a steady UMA workhorse for years now! Last week, the operator announced it launched Canada's first Wi-Fi voice service for businesses. The goal? To address business' need for reliable and cost-effective connectivity. It's an expansion of Rogers' existing UMA service packages for studentsRogers' UMA for Students, which it launched last summer.

This quote from the press release explains the value Rogers wants to deliver its business customers with the new service plan: 

"Our business customers are telling us they need flexible connectivity that just works - no matter where they are. And they want it at a predictable, competitive price," says Gordon Stein, Vice President, Business Segment, Rogers Communications Inc. "With this service, business people can be confident that all of their calls will be clear as they move seamlessly from registered internal Wi-Fi systems to the Rogers 3G network. This combination of flexibility and cost certainty is a powerful advantage for growing businesses."

There's an accompanying video interview with telecom analyst Jon Arnold where he talks about the flexibility of the service and the ease of use. He says: "Wi-Fi calling is a smart and simple way to make your business voice communications dollars work better for you.  It's nice to see companies like Rogers thinking like a customer and bringing services like this to market."

There's also a whitepaper (PDF) and a new web page.

If you're in business in Canada, check it out.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Nokia C7 To Come with Wi-Fi Calling?

Nokia keeps delivering Wi-Fi Calling phones for T-Mobile.  Here's another example, offered up by

Well done Nokia.  The C7 joins a long line of Wi-Fi Calling enabled phones at T-Mobile, the E73, the 6301, the 6086.  And there are probably more.

Friday, March 04, 2011

T-Mobile Talks Up It's Wi-Fi Calling Advantage

At Mobile World Congress, T-Mobile’s Josh Lonn spent some time talking with several different editors about the company’s success with the Wi-Fi Calling service.

In Monica Alleven’s article “Wi-Fi Calling is Talk of the Town,” she quotes Mr. Lonn saying “We believe this is more effective [than femtocells].”

Mike Dano with Fierce Wireless wrote that T-Mobile has approximately 5 millions Wi-Fi Calling users today, with about 1.25 million on the new Android version of the service.

In Total Telecom’s piece, “Wi-Fi Offload?  There’s an app for that,” Mary Lennighan quotes Mr. Lonn saying: “We’re putting [coverage] on the device side rather than something that plugs into the wall.”

Network World’s Nancy Gohring’s trend piece on ‘small cells’ on femtocells and Wi-Fi covered both sides of the debate.  But T-Mobile’s quote hit the nail on the head. “Wi-Fi is robust.  Why do something as complicated as a femto?” questioned Mr. Lonn.

But it was TMoNews that really summed up the situation, writing “Personally, I believe T-Mobile hit a home run with the Wi-Fi Calling service over that of a femtocell.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Wi-Fi Accounts for 50% of mobile user connections to Internet

So says a new study by Bango, as reported by Fierce Broadbandwireless. Rather than attaching over the cellular network, users are turning to Wi-Fi to surf the web.  Wi-Fi accounts for half of mobile device connections to the internet.

Wi-Fi is the primary in-building wireless technology, and people primarily use access the internet on their smartphones and tablets when at home or in the office, so this really isn't such a big surprise.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Samsung Vibrant (Galaxy S) to get Wi-Fi Calling

The long awaited  firmware update for T-Mobile's Samsung Vibrant (Galaxy S) phone should start today, according to comments made by Cole Brodman at T-Mobile's Investor Day conference yesterday.

With more than 1 million units in the field, this is a huge push for Wi-Fi Calling.

Here's a link to the original article from PC Mag.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

T-Mobile: The Wi-Fi Calling Carrier!

At T-Mobile's investor relations day in New York, new CEO Philip Humm, CTO Neville Ray and CMO Cole Brodman made this presentation.  While there are many fascinating facts, for those of us at the Smart Wi-Fi blog, we were drawn to slide 54.  Given the (moderate) controversy about  T-Mobile and femtocells this week, I think we know one thing for sure:

T-Mobile is the Wi-Fi Calling Carrier!

Or said another way, it's unlikely that T-Mobile will drop Wi-Fi Calling in favor of femtocells.  They may choose to add femtocells to their coverage portfolio, but one might want to ask why?

Slide 41 - "Wi-Fi coverage to bolster in-home coverage and broadband"
Slide 44 - "Wi-Fi provides improved coverage and offloads capacity"
Slide 54 - "Broad portfolio across all Android and BlackBerry smartphones"

T-Mobile Femtocells: Yes, No, Maybe

Earlier this week Michelle Donegan at Light Reading reported that an unnamed source at the operator confirmed that "the carrier will have 3G femtocells as part of its product portfolio in 2011".

As one might expect, the post was light on details - there was no timeframe and no vendors because T-Mobile was 'still in the process of selecting them.'

Then today, Kevin Fitchard at Connected Planet posted that "T-Mobile USA has no plans to offer a femtocell and will continue to focus on its dual-mode Wi-Fi fixed mobile convergence strategy," adding "at least that's what we're hearing from T-Mobile."

I think the answer is clear:  a definite maybe.

It's a blog, so let's speculate:  Why T-Mobile would want to offer a femtocell:
Everyone else is.  ATT, VZW, Sprint all have a femtocell, they don't want to be left out.  Undoubtedly there are T-Mobile customers who would be willing to pay for a femtocell to get better coverage at home.

Why T-Mobile wouldn't want to offer a femtocell:
It's not at all clear that people want a femtocell service - especially if they have to pay for it.  Of course, some do, but recall that earlier this year the Femto Forum announced that there were 'more femtocells in the US than macro cell towers'.  They pegged the number at 350,000 units.

Let's do some math.  Between the three largest carriers in the US, servicing some 230,000,000 subscribers, they have managed to sell (or give away) 350,000 femtocells - or about 0.1%.  No wonder 2010 was the 'year of the femtocell', or was it 2009, or 2008..., or maybe it will be 2011.

Meanwhile, T-Mobile seems to be rocking the Smart Wi-Fi.  It's part of their hottest selling '4G' phones the MyTouch 4G and Google G2.  Plus with Wi-Fi installed in an estimated 50,000,000 homes in the US, Smart Wi-Fi has a HUGE head start when it comes to installed base.

Monday, January 10, 2011

T-Mobile Launches Motorola Cliq 2 with Wi-Fi Calling

Somehow I manged to squeeze in to the Motorola stand at CES last week.

The stand was jam packed with people there to see the new Motorola tablet, zoom.

But equaly popular were Motorola's lineup of Android phones, including the Cliq2.

The phone I found shows T-Mobile's Wi-Fi Calling app pre-loaded on the desktop.

Great news for T-Mobile and Wi-Fi Calling enthusiasts.