from RCRWireless News,
AT&T Mobility said it plans to launch Wi-Fi calling by the end of this year, following Sprint and T-Mobile US, which have launched the technology.
In June, AT&T petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to issue new rules recognizing real-time text as an alternative to text telephone devices. They requested the agency change the stipulation that states providers must enable 911 and 711 short-code dialing using a text telephone.
In the petition, AT&T set their 2015 target date, noting Verizon Wireless is looking toward voice over LTE and T-Mobile US and Sprint have already heavily advertised their recent launches of Wi-Fi calling. The company said it “hopes to begin to offer its own Wi-Fi calling service later in 2015.”
“As these VoIP technologies become the preferred platform for voice services, new solutions – such as (real-time text), are emerging for providing access to these services to people with disabilities,” AT&T added. “RTT, which is designed to operate on IP-based networks, will be superior to (text telephone) in every way – transmission speed, latency, reliability, features, privacy, conversation form and ease of use.”
At an investor conference last year, AT&T’s Mobile & Business Solutions Group CEO Ralph De La Vega, said “we’ll use Wi-Fi calling in 2015, but only as a complement.”
Verizon Communications has yet to set a date for a launch of VoWi-Fi, but the company’s CFO Fran Shammo said the technology should be available by “midyear.”
“It was just never a top priority for us only because we built our voice platform so extensively that there was never a need for us to tell our customers, ‘Oh, our network is not good enough, you need to default to Wi-Fi to complete your call,’” Shammo said.
Smaller carriers have been some of the first to debut VoWi-Fi as a way to compete with the big guys. Among the major U.S. operators, only Sprint and T-Mobile US have launched VoWi-Fi. T-Mobile US’ version of the technology supports seamless handover between Wi-Fi and cellular; Sprint currently does not.