Syniverse enters client-centric Wi-Fi offloading arena

NEW ORLEANS--Syniverse used this week's CTIA show to introduce its Wi-Fi Talk & Text solution, which uses a handset-based client component that directs a subscriber's smartphone to automatically switch to IP-based calling and messaging when it enters an approved Wi-Fi zone.

The WiTT also entails network-based protocols, switching and signaling as well. "To take that handset and drop it onto a Wi-Fi zone and enable it to make and receive calls, make and receive text, make and receive MMS [and] make and receive data, you have to do a lot of interaction with the network. So you effectively have to make that Wi-Fi hotspot look like an extension of the mobile switching network that the subscriber would typically be on," John Wick, senior vice president of global network solutions, told FierceBroadbandWireless.

Though the product uses SIP technology, it can also throttle down to SS7 if necessary, he said.

WiTT relies upon standard roaming interfaces to provide enhanced indoor coverage via Wi-Fi, as well as enable subscribers to use an operator's voice and messaging services over Wi-Fi while traveling abroad, said the company.

Operators that want to maintain control over which Wi-Fi networks their customers' devices access, can employ a database that Wick said is analogous to a cellular network's preferred roaming list. "A lot of the targets that we've spoken to so far about Wi-Fi Talk & Text in many cases are already associated with a Wi-Fi hotspot provider," he said. "Clearly that becomes their preferred choice of hotspots."

But as mobile operators increasingly rely upon Wi-Fi offloading, they should be concerned about quality of service issues, and that is a challenge for the industry ecosystem. "We've got to raise the quality and performance of the Wi-Fi environment in general up to the same standards as the 3G and the 4G networks," said Wick.

"I think you're going to find some Wi-Fi providers that are willing to step up to that challenge," said Wick, noting those providers will operate the preferred go-to hotspots. That could enable the term "offload" to eventually disappear from industry lexicon. "If we can get to that preferred tier of Wi-Fi providers, it's no longer an offload, it's part of the network," said Wick.

Syniverse is active in organizations developing SIM-based authentication methods for Wi-Fi offloading, but Wick said, "I think SIM authentication is going to be an important part of the overall solution, but I don't think it's going to be global."

He added that the technology for SIM authenticated offloading is available but "deploying that into the industry and making money off of it" is a ways off.

For more:
- see this Syniverse release

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