Republic Wireless to roll out Salsa update following 3% increase in Wi-Fi calling

Republic Wireless is slowly implementing its "Salsa" technology that it says will better support Wi-Fi calling and handoffs between Wi-Fi and cellular networks. According to the company's spokeswoman, the update, which grew out of Republic Wireless's recent Project Salsa, will be distributed to all current Republic phones, as well as second generation Android phones operating on Lollipop.

The MVNO announced Project Salsa in late June to test cellular-to-Wi-Fi handoffs for 1,800 participants. According to Republic Wireless, the study resulted in a three percentage point increase in Wi-Fi supported calls. Kyle White, the project manager and data scientist for Project Salsa, said today that, following the rollout of the update, Republic Wireless was seeing a 9 percent increase in Wi-Fi call handling.

"Three points may not sound like a lot, but every minute of additional time spent on Wi-Fi helps us continue to offer services like our more-popular-than-ever $10 Talk & Text plan," a company representative told RCR Wireless. "How? Because it costs us more to power your calls on cell than your calls on Wi-Fi -- and we are committed to maintaining great pricing for our members, however we can."

Though the company has been working on two-way cellular-to-Wi-Fi handovers for years, the switch from its Sprint-supported cellular network to Wi-Fi is considered a more challenging endeavor than the switch from Wi-Fi-supported use back to the cellular network. Still, in a note to test participants, Republic Wireless said it saw progress in cellular-to-Wi-Fi handoffs (and a one-third response from participants that their connectivity had improved) and expects to see savings from increased Wi-Fi call handling.

In spite of the company's assertion that only 3 percent of testers would not choose to continue with Salsa service, it seems that traditional cellular-to-Wi-Fi problems were still noticeable during the test period.

"We recognize that not every handover the device performs is perfect. These audio artifacts or complete drops may occur in both switching from cell to Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi to cell," the company's email to participants said. "However, because calling handover is so core to our business, and because we have not yet achieved perfection, we are rapidly developing some pretty neat features to make sure these switches are extra seamless."

For more:
- see this RCR Wireless article

Special Report: T-Mobile, Apple, Google lead the way on Wi-Fi calling

Related articles:
Republic Wireless launches Project Salsa to test cellular-to-Wi-Fi handovers
Google's Project Fi MVNO isn't a threat to Wi-Fi-first players Republic, Scratch and FreedomPop
Google unveils 'Project Fi' MVNO with Sprint and T-Mobile as partners

Article updated August 24 to include new information on Salsa's Wi-Fi supported call percentages.