Then and now

WiFi calling is not a new idea. Apps like Skype, Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger have already adopted the concept of making calls using WiFi and mobile data. Having access to this technology in Nigeria could mean a lot of things. Considering the cost of data bundles, Nigerians may not embrace it easily. But inevitably, as more ISPs enter the market, the laws of economics means that prices will eventually drop.

What WiFi Calling is All About

WiFi calling is simply being able to make and receive phone calls over WiFi. This is especially useful when your mobile carrier’s network coverage is shaky (which happens quite often in Nigeria). What differentiates this from Skyping and calling with Whatsapp is that the person you’re calling doesn’t need to download any third party apps. As long as the person’s phone is enabled for ‘Voice Over LTE’ calling, then you are good to go.

In the US, T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint already provide built-in WiFi calling. WiFi calling on each of these carriers is supported on phones like the Apple iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, Samsung Galaxy Note 5, S6 Edge Plus, LG G4, and HTC One M9.

What challenge will WiFi calling pose to the status quo?

WiFi calling could prove a threat to mobile service providers in Nigeria if they don’t adopt it early. These mobile service providers generate massive revenue from sales of recharge cards. Meanwhile, making calls from WiFi networks is cheaper than making calls from cellular networks.

Mobile service providers in Nigeria have evolved from just providing call credit to providing modems, and now WiFi services and mobile data packages. Even though some of these services are characteristically slow, the progressive switch points us in the direction the world is moving: wireless. The issue is not whether or not we will have WiFi calling in Nigeria – because we will. It’s a matter of ‘when’. Just last month, Smile Communications Nigeria announced that a partnership with Samsung to launch a 4G LTE voice calling service in Nigeria was in the works. The competition is heating up on this front with the entrance of Smile into the picture.

The good thing is that winter is coming this increased competition means that we, the customers, will get better deals and better services in the process. It’s a dog eat dog world. If a startup picks up on this trend and follows hard at it, then we have a massive disruption on our hands. Maybe.
Photo Credit: Tom Raftery via Compfight cc

David Adeleke Author

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