Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sprint to Enable Free Wi-Fi Calling?

Sprint reportedly is going to enable " no incremental charge" calling when users of at least a couple of Sprint phones are in a Wi-Fi zone, without counting against a customer's voice usage cap.

As reported, a customer will simply need a compatible device (possibly Samsung S4 Mini or Galaxy Mega), enable the feature through a web interface and begin using it. 

No monthly charge will be assessed for turning on Wi-fi Calling, apparently. 

Offering such features ("free calling") often makes sense for a service provider when the risk of cannibalizing revenue is slight and when the network is lightly loaded enough that a significant increase in usage will not stress the network and when there are other business reasons for encouraging usage. 

In this instance, the happy set of circumstances seems to include the fact that the Sprint 3G network will start to see less demand as traffic shifts to 4G (apparently the Wi-Fi calling feature requires presence of a 3G signal). 

The Wi-Fi calls are domestic only, and of course all the leading national providers have found that voice usage keeps dropping anyhow, freeing up voice network capacity.

In this case the 3G network resource primarily used might only be the signaling network, as most of the time only the signaling network actually will be consuming network resources. Only in case of an emergency call being placed would actual bearer traffic be imposed on the 3G network.

The new feature also might create some distinctiveness for 3G network access, the supported handsets and Sprint's access services in general. 

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