T-Mobile now plays host to 1.6 million WiFi calls each month, the mobile carrier announced April 26.
Touting itself as the first major carrier to offer WiFi calling, it plans to support WiFi calling on additional devices into 2011.
“Today, T-Mobile offers WiFi on all of its BlackBerry devices. We strongly support WiFi calling and are committed to WiFi technology on our handsets on the major business platforms moving forward,” David Lampkin, a T-Mobile divisional director, told eWEEK.
The news comes as T-Mobile works to adjust its image from a consumer-geared carrier to one with also serious business cred – as well as a full-fledged global carrier, which is made possible through aggressive roaming agreements.
Encouraging more businesses worldwide to enjoy the benefits of WiFi calling, T-Mobile has unveiled a T-Mobile Solution Providers program, a effort in which it teams with WLAN resellers and systems integrators to offer customers optimized UMA and WiFi networks.
“The program provides customers with a broader solution set and additional expertise that complements T-Mobile’s existing WiFi calling products and services,” the carrier said in a statement. “Further, the collaborative engagement provides customers with a streamlined experience, thereby offering the opportunity for both cost savings and increased efficiencies.”
Lampkin added, “We find in the business space today, a lot of companies already have an enterprise [WiFi solution in place] that can leverage WiFi calling, offloading minutes from their cellular onto WiFi at no cost.”
He offered the example of a Seattle-based T-Mobile customer that has a 20-person office in Amsterdam. “They have a wireless LAN in Amsterdam that they utilize for voice calls, using their Seattle phones in Amsterdam to make calls back to Seattle – they’re treated like local calls.”
T-Mobile currently offers a WiFi Calling with MobileOffice service, which uses the BlackBerry Mobile Voice System to mobilize PBX systems, equipping BlackBerry handsets with office-phone features.
In addition to cost savings, Lampkin explained that WiFi calling enables T-Mobile to extend service to difficult-to-access areas, such as hospitals, or rooms where cellular signals would disrupt high-tech machinery but a WiFi signal is acceptable.
As competitor Verizon Wireless gears up to begin rolling out it 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) technology, Lampkin said T-Mobile has future plans to migrate to LTE, but for now is focused on extending its HSPA+ network – to a coverage area of 100 million Americans by mid-year, and 180 million by the end of 2010.
With HSPA+, said Lampkin, “We’re getting speeds that are three to five times faster than on domestic 3G networks.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: This text reflects a correction to T-Mobile’s position. While it originally told eWEEK that all devices on all platforms launched in 2011 will support WiFi calling, it later changed its statement to say that while the latter is its goal, it can’t yet confirm that all devices will support the functionality in that timeframe.