When it comes to improving the mobile connectivity experience, Voice-over-WiFi promises broader coverage, better connections and clearer call quality. It contributes to Liberty Global’s concept of ‘fluid living’, where customers can enjoy seamless connectivity from any location. Check out the cool video, too!
Ever since cell phones made the leap from analogue to digital with the transition to 2G, the connectivity and reliability of mobile telephony has continued to grow and improve. Every subsequent generation has delivered transformative increases in data bandwidth and network capacity, enabling new experiences like streaming songs and movies on the go.
The most prevalent, most modern mobile technology in Europe today is 4G. The problem for customers is that cellular coverage is far from absolute. According to OpenSignal, The Netherlands is the highest-ranking European country for 4G availability, and fifth globally, with 84.1 percent coverage. And while this is exceptionally high, closing the gap seems unlikely because of the increasing focus on, and investment required for, emerging technologies such as 5G.
Of course, none of this matters to our customers who simply want to stay connected as they go about their daily business. Rising to this precise challenge, Liberty Global has implemented a native ‘WiFi Calling Enabling Platform’ across our mobile operation. Furthermore, we are proud to be the first mainland European Full Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) to do so.
So how does it work? The Platform enhances our mobile product offering by adding the capability for voice calls and SMS to be carried over WiFi, instead of the potentially patchy cellular network. This results in a more consistent experience for our customer, especially indoors.
Let’s say that a cellular connection suffers technical problems during an important call. Our technology automatically reconnects the customer to the strongest WiFi connection without disrupting the service.
It can achieve this because we have designed the software with ‘intelligent search’. It constantly scans for the best-possible connections—both cellular and WiFi—and switches to them when needed. What’s more, the software does all of this in the background with no need for the customer to take action. No apps, no settings changes – no hassle.
That’s great for individual customers, but it is our scale that makes this a game-changer. Today, Liberty Global boasts the largest cable infrastructure in Europe, and this is complemented by over 10 million public WiFi hotspots. As a result, chances are that no matter the customer’s location, they are close to one of our connections.
While the decision to invest in the technology was easy, developing it was considerably harder. As an MVNO you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand you are relieved from burdensome responsibilities such as radio planning. But on the other hand, you lack end-to-end control over your customers’ experience. In a time of ever-growing competitive pressure from incumbent operators and new entrants alike, it’s a tough place to be.
To date, WiFi calling has almost exclusively been the domain of mobile operators. Furthermore, WiFi calling VOIP apps as an alternative solution have only been offered in MVNO environments with limited success. This is the value-add of Liberty Global launching a native WiFi calling service in a Full MVNO environment—it reliably improves our residential customers’ connectivity experience.
And what about our ever-important B2B customer? According to Reinier Huisman, Director Business Mobile and Applications, native WiFi calling will make a big difference for our enterprise customers.
As work increasingly becomes ‘something you do’ versus ‘somewhere you go’, native WiFi calling enables a seamless ‘office anywhere’ experience. For example, when a mobile handset in combination with network intelligence detects an improved connectivity opportunity via WiFi, calls and even text messages are (re)routed accordingly. In other words, it’s all taken care of.
For another colleague of mine, Najeeb Khan, Director Mobile Products & Out-of-Home WiFi, controlling the end-to-end quality of mobile calls is imperative. Over-the-top (OTT) apps can provide better call quality compared with standard mobile services – but this can degrade as the customer moves around.
By investing in Voice-over-WiFi, Liberty Global not only improves the OTT experience but, in combination with our own carrier-grade quality and increased end-to-end control over call setup and handling, delivers a compelling proposition for further accelerating customer growth.
As a full MVNO, we can navigate through the twin constraints of limited control over the customer experience and suboptimal-call-quality-and-coverage, with a view to offering next-generation mobile services to both our enterprise and consumer customers.
Thanks to the invaluable support of our strategic partners, as well as leading mobile device brands, our Voice-over-WiFi services are taking Liberty Global, mobile technology and our customers into a brave new world. From one small step, to one giant leap – let’s go!