Sprint Wi-Fi Calling Illustrates Dramatic Change in Voice Value

Perhaps nothing illustrates the extraordinary shift in the value of voice services for service providers than the announcement that Sprint iPhone customers now can make high-quality calls over Wi-Fi networks, while using their own phone number.

In part, Sprint pitches the feature as a way to extend coverage, especially indoors.  

“Wi-Fi Calling is like a major expansion of our network, allowing Sprint customers to get coverage anywhere they have Wi-Fi connectivity,” said David Owens, senior vice president of product development for Sprint. “Traditional wireless technology has some limitations in places like basements and high-rise office buildings.

Such calls do not count against subscriber data usage buckets or voice allotments. In other words, Sprint is enabling customers to use their mobiles to make calls for no additional cost and without using any of their paid-for data or voice calling capabilities. In essence, Sprint now gives away what it used to sell.

There are indirect benefits, even if voice communications is more a feature than a revenue stream. Consumers will be happier because their signal coverage is better. They also will essentially be offloading some amount of voice traffic from the mobile network.

The virtual effect is to improve Sprint’s network coverage at no cost. So losing potential voice or Internet access revenue is balanced by better user experience and mobile network load.

Customers traveling internationally with Wi-Fi access also can use Wi-Fi calling to enjoy free calls from over 200 countries back to the United States.

Wi-Fi Calling also is available at no additional charge when calling to a U.S., U.S. Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico phone number.
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