Mobile communication is a competitive space where operators are striving to introduce new services to better compete with OTT and increase ARPU.
On the other end, mobile operators are looking to reduce their operating costs. One way to do so while also increasing user satisfaction is by enabling WiFi calling in their networks.
Earlier this year, competition in the US got even stronger with Google’s announcement of Project Fi. In essence, Google became an MVNO. Will they go global with Project Fi? If the pilot in the US succeeds, why shouldn’t they?
For Project Fi, Google partnered with Sprint and T-Mobile, using their LTE data networks. Users of Project Fi can make voice calls and send text messages over WiFi or the cellular data network with a seamless switchover between the networks. A call that started on a user’s home WiFi network will automatically switch over to Sprint or T-Mobile’s cellular network f when the user steps out of the house.
Putting the address book in Google’s cloud allow users access to the service also from their PCs and tablets.
Google also changed the standard cost model, offering a low-cost, monthly fee of $20 for unlimited domestic voice and text, unlimited international text and coverage in over 120 countries. Data runs at $10 per 1 GB. If not all the data is used, Google refunds the user for the unused portion of the package.
If Google is now an MVNO, where does this leave incumbent MVNOs?
MVNOs should innovate their services
MVNOs work differently than Google did in building Project Fi.
The typical MVNO buys voice, text and data in bulks from operators, puts their own service management on top and resells it to users at a lower cost than that offered by the operators.
Project Fi on the other hand, offers a device that uses only the data network (cellular or WiFi). Thus the service is part of the device dialer and operational costs for Google are lower.
The challenge for MVNOs in offering a service similar to Project Fi include:
- The need to replace the device dialer to optimize user experience
- The network should be able to receive calls on behalf of the user and direct them to his device as a VoIP call
- Switching between cellular data and WiFi should be automatic and seamless. This needs to be supported both on the device and in the network.
AudioCodes’ MobilityPlus, provides MVNOs a way to realize this transition.
The solution comprises of mobile clients that MVNOs can adopt and configure to be the default dialer of the Android device they offer to their customers.
The SIM card offered to the users will have cellular data services only, while the phone number is managed by the network. The device switches between cellular data and WiFi as required.
The dialer application includes AudioCodes advanced voice quality enhancement algorithms together with with modern voice codecs with error resiliency.
The network side includes AudioCodes SBC and an application that manages the user’s identity. It places and receives calls on the user’s behalf and bridges between the VoIP network and other networks of termination partners, ensuring users can call destinations globally regardless of the operator they are using.
Switching between cellular data and WiFi is also supported by the network, allowing for in-call switch over.
Switching to pure IP based services allows MVNOs to reduce operation costs. They won’t need to pay for the use the operator’s voice network by minutes but rather will use the cellular data only when the user is not connected to WiFi.
As competition in mobile market intensifies due to new offerings such as that of Google, cost reduction translates into the ability to reduce churn.