back to article Vodafone: Can't make calls on our network? Use Wi-Fi

Vodafone will launch Wi-Fi Calling and Voice over 4G (VoLTE) this summer. Both services require handsets that support the technologies, and Vodafone is keeping mum as to which ones it will be shipping. Wi-Fi Calling is a UMA (Unlicensed Mobile Access) service and for certain high-end handsets is an alternative to using the …

O2 offers TuGo, which is app-based VoIP

I think you mean "O2 offers TuGo, which is great if you want it to take half an hour just to type a text that will then refuse to send anyway". As for call quality... there is no call quality.

TuGo is, basically, non-functional.

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And of course you can't use it if you buy their data+sms package.

Not that they will tell you this when you buy it, nor when you talk to customer services (twice)

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Anonymous Coward

There's also ...

"Three in Touch" from 3

And SmartCall from Virgin Media

Any chance of el-Reg running a side-by-side test of all these voice over WiFi apps?

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Re: There's also ...

The "Three" version is shite. Install a crappy app on your mobile, register it - but only when you have a good signal, and then suffer with an utterly backwards, non-integrated "phone and SMS message" system that doesn't work very well, is annoying to use, and is entirely separate to your normal phone and SMS functions.

I have a nasty feeling that the other offerings aren't much better.

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Re: There's also ...

I agree that the app itself is pretty shite, but it does work and I've personally found it quite useful when I've got WiFi, but no mobile signal.

Yes, you have to provision it whilst you're on Three's network, but that is clearly a security issue, not a technical limitation.

I'd prefer something better, but it is vastly better than nothing at all.

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Re: There's also ...

Three's offering is not perfect but it does work fairly well when needed, i'd prefer UMA though

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FAIL

"EE has had UMA for some time"

Except they've ditched it. "Signal Boost was available to Orange customers on selected Android, BlackBerry and Nokia phones but is no longer available to purchase."

http://ee.co.uk/business/small/help/mobile-and-home-connections/checking-and-improving-your-network-coverage/signal-boost/about-signal-boost

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Re: "EE has had UMA for some time"

Signal Boost and UMA are different things. EE is still running UMA on the network as my Blackberry Bold 9780 uses it. Nothing funnier than being in the basement of a building with a client and my phone rings. My call being routed via the building's WiFi network while the client looks as his fancy Smartphone with zero signal bars.

If it wasn't for UMA I would not have phone coverage in my house, or my neighbour's house. So it is good to see Vodaphone supporting this as I have been a little nervous about what will happen when BT eats EE.

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Re: "EE has had UMA for some time"

@Mark, I believe Signal Boost is what Orange called their UMA offering. Existing customers are grandfathered in, which is why you're good to go, but it's no longer available for new connections.

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Re: "EE has had UMA for some time"

<Signal boost> "but it's no longer available for new connections."

That's correct. And even if you had it on a handset, should you lose it during a reset or OS update you can't now download the UMA app. Which is a pity, because it worked fairly well (much better than O2's wanky,useless VoIP wifi client TuGo that pretends to do the same thing but fails miserably in every aspect).

I'm not sure why MNO's wilfully ignore the fact that many more people would be quite happy to ditch a landline (cf the 1 in 8 who already have) on condition that their mobiles worked reliably at home. But the words "mobile" and "home" apparently only go together for people living in caravans. Meanwhile the MNO's instead spend their money on that arse Kevin Bacon prattling on about 4G and better download speeds that the majority of people still can't get, and the majority of handsets in use won't support. And even when the knobs at EE have finished their 4G roll out, I'll wager that a good half the population will still have to hang out of an upstairs window for any reliable voice connection. Important message to mobile phone companies: I'd be quite happy to tolerate "buffer face" if you bastards would at least give me decent voice coverage and far better 3G H+ data. And whilst you're at it, the evidence is compelling that you live in caves and neither travel by car nor train, but maybe you could perhaps cater for the somewhat larger population that do - a quick look at a map will show you where the railways and roads are. Or you could just look at your own network's dropped call locations.

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Three do Wifi calling

And have done for a while now.

Sadly the quality is not great, but it works for texting perfectly well. Of course when I want to send a text message to one of my friends I will probably do it using google hangouts or some similar service, so it's not amazingly useful for me, but it does work.

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Re: Three do Wifi calling

The voice quality is excellent for me at work, but we have a fairly beefy internet connection as most company mobiles are Vodafone and we have a femtocell also connected to the 'net.

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Vodafone need to do something to improve 'coverage'. But is using WiFi the right way to do it ?

In Marlborough I can stand 50m from the Vodafone shop and have no coverage at all.

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Its a shop, not a phone mast.

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Re: Its a shop, not a phone mast

Mobile phone shops in areas with poor coverage employ femtocells to provide some coverage within the shop ... so, yes, it's a Vodafone shop therefore it is a phone mast.

It's only a femtocell, though, and 50m away is probably too far.

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Nope normal Wifi is not the way to go, but there is an unbreakable Wifi in development

1.75Gbps half-duplex 802.11ad

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Anonymous Coward

Dunno what the fuss is about...

I've been doing VOIP over LTE, 3G, and WiFi for ages, nothing special, IP is the lowest common denominator is it not?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Dunno what the fuss is about...

What you fail to appreciate is the VoLTE is not simply VoIP , rather its prioritised PDP contexts with interactive QoS so its packets are more equal than other packets, all the way from the radio bearer through to the final point of interconnect.

Also you get the so-called "HD-Voice" Codecs thrown in for free hence the totally sublime call quality.

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Obviously the main feature is...

that VoLTE provides you with ways to charge for VoLTE traffic independently of normal IP traffic. Prioritisation can already be done without the complexity overhead of buzzword rich theoretical constructs.

My prediction is that VoLTE will die either in favour of complete normal VoIP independently of your LTE provider (this already works surprisingly well) or there will be handsets which can use GSM and LTE at the same time. The GSM network is not likely to go away as it's seen as infrastructure, so you might as well use it for voice. We already see operators running voice calls over GSM even for UMTS handsets.

Plus unlike UMTS and GSM, LTE and GSM can coexist in the same band rather nicely. So what we may see are operators deploying it in the same band and mobile stations being able to use both at the same time.

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Re: Dunno what the fuss is about...

"rather its prioritised PDP contexts with interactive QoS so its packets are more equal than other packets, all the way from the radio bearer through to the final point of interconnect."

Actually I've recently done some Tests on the Vodafone fixed line network in a country I do not want to name here, and I see no indication that they could run something as complicated as VoLTE.

In the real world Vodafone already struggles with their ISDN network. Even to a point where you have crosstalk between different ISDN voice channels. In their core network they seem to convert multiple times between TDM and ISDN, sometimes even using T.38 for Fax calls. This wouldn't be a problem, if their IP lines wouldn't be highly oversubscribed. So you have "packet loss" in your ISDN connection. Sometimes you even get a call translated from ISDN to IP (T.38) to IP (G.711) to ISDN, with the second IP line having packet loss.

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What you fail to mention.....

What you fail to mention is usability; I have TalkTalk2Go, Viber (horribly insecure) and Skype all as apps on my phone, in addition to the actual (standard) phone.

What I want, (and I think most people want,) is a ** SINGLE ** phone interface that works seamlessly whether on 3G, 4G or Wi-Fi.

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Three

I tried using three's app recently because my flat has zero signal.

The app is ok in a pinch, but doesn't seem reliable enough as a permanent solution. I am forever getting messages saying that "wifi is not working", and my phone's battery seems to have a hole in it now.

Call quality was surprisingly poor - though I'm not sure whether the app, phone or feeble broadband connection is at fault here.

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Went Ape shit at three!!

After i read the clauses in what access their app wanted to do on my phone.

Basically was misold a three contract that they had listed as good indoor signal, they offered me the app, went to install it and told them to get buggered, no way was i allowing that sort of invasion onto my device, they ended up sending me the femtocell.

Much prefer the femtocell way of doing things, used to have one with Vodafone, stopped using it for a year and they wont let me use it again :(

Well i will be ditching Vodafone anyway due to poor data deals. Whats the point in having speed if you cant use it.

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I had UMA on an old BlackBerry on Orange a few years ago.

It was quite good, but the newer phones don't seem to support it. I now have whatsapp for text and Bria for voice on my BB10 device.

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EE femtocell (“Signal Box”) no longer available from EE …

… plenty available on eBay though. They work well.

Odd that they've stopped selling it. I would not still be with EE if they had not been able to provide one when I last moved house: I require actual celluar coverage in my house, not some application separate from my standard phone interface!

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Paris Hilton

Re: EE femtocell (“Signal Box”) no longer available from EE …

I thought that femtocell boxes had to be registered with the network provider for the purposes of Emergency 999 location. So you can't just buy one from ebay and plug it in?

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Re: EE femtocell (“Signal Box”) no longer available from EE …

Not sure about the EE ones, but the Vodafone ones need to be registered on their website. I get text messages from Vodafone every so often informing me my femtocell has been moved, please register your new postcode blah blah, even though the thing hasn't been moved.

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Anonymous Coward

Three and O2 have had Voice and Text over WiFi services for quite a while now, but these are not Voice over WiFi. The difference is that Voice over WiFi uses the same base 3GPP standards as Voice over LTE (and therefore the same core systems to handle the traffic) where as the Voice and Text over WiFi that is delivered through bespoke apps use specialised IMS systems to integrate with the core networks.

When it comes to call quality on these Apps (I've used both TuGo and Three in Touch) it's actually pretty good, but of course, depends on who you are calling. If you call a user who is on a low quality 2G cell, then the quality is going to be just as bad as calling from a 2G cell yourself. The same goes for most calls to landlines, as these are still mainly carried over antiquated TDM circuits.

The main problems with these apps, is that they are separate Apps, not native components to the phones. Voice over WiFi is native to the phone and essentially just turns WiFi networks in to another access network for voice calls without having to install an App to do so.

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Had it on Orange - poor quality

I had Signal Boost on my old Ornage HTC One X. It was great on the London Underground with the Virgin wifi. Especially useful for SMS. But I had to switch it off at home since the call quality was far too low...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Had it on Orange - poor quality

>>I had Signal Boost on my old Ornage

fnarr fnarr!

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VoWifi not UMA

UMA was a way of bridging voice calls to the traditional circuit switched core via a UMA Controller, which pretended to be a BSC or RNC as far as the core network was concerned.

Modern VoWifi works differently by creating an IPSec tunnel from the phone, over Wifi, across the Internet to an ePDG on the edge of the operator's packet core where it gets converted to a GTP-U tunnel to connect to the GGSN or PDN-GW...and from there connects to the IMS just like a VoLTE service does.

So it's really VoLTE diverted over Wifi

Handover between cellular and Wifi can be provided by SRVCC (Single Radio Voice Call Continuity) if the ePDG supports it.

Although Vodafone might be using good old UMA and routing traffic via their CS core, I'd be amazed if they were

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Vodafone Wifi Calling - It's all a lot of hot air

Vodafone's Wifi calling only works on iPhone 6S so on the date they announced that it was live there wasn't even a device you could use to make a wifi call. There are no plans to support other iPhone's so it is completely useless. For those of us that have terrible Vodafone network signals this was supposed to be the answer to our prayers. Vodafone has, as usual, failed to meet the hype of its announcements.

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