Enterprises are looking for ways to smooth their adoption of WiFi calling as it becomes more popular and gains support from the technology giants. Many businesses now have employees who rarely use landlines, instead preferring the mobility of their smartphones.
However, weak signals (or no signals at all) often mean that these employees need to stand outside or hang around a window just to take or place a phone call. If calls do go through, their quality is sometimes lacking. WiFi can solve these problems, but businesses should be aware that they will need to prepare for the adoption of a WiFi calling system.
WiFi Networks and Support
There are two main challenges to adopting a WiFi calling system: increased capital and operating expenditures, and the current workload of the IT department. Fully upgrading to indoor calling may mean more capex in the form of more WiFi devices, and more opex in the form of prioritizing voice data. In addition to these expenses, most businesses' IT departments are already adjusting to bring your own device (BYOD) culture, increased bandwidth waste, and security challenges such as unauthorized users. In order to help decrease these issues, businesses should look into two solutions: improving their network, or using mobile operators.
Improving the Network
Improving the network is usually the most cost effective solution because it uses existing infrastructure. A number of companies that make access points (APs), including Aerohive, Aruba, Cisco, and Ruckus, offer capabilities that can also be used for phone calls. Businesses should investigate their options with both network and mobile vendors, as many of these solutions were originally created for apps or use with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).
Before adopting WiFi calling, it's important that businesses ensure their entire network path, especially the campus switches, is able to support the increased traffic. Companies should also examine their network for anything that needs repairs or upgrades.
For businesses that choose to go the mobile operators route, there are a number of options that mobile vendors can offer, including:
- a distributed antenna system (DAS),
- picocells, and
- signal boosters and routers.
Distributed Antenna System
A DAS utilizes rooftop and indoor antennas to distribute the signal throughout the building. This can be the most expensive option, but its biggest benefit is that the endpoint device can easily find it, making a DAS ideal for large areas such as airports or malls. Businesses should be aware that they don't need a specific carrier, but their system will need to be able to handle a variety of mobile technologies.
Appropriate for small businesses with a low number of employees, femtocells create a small coverage area via a consumer device. Data and voice are then sent out by broadband to the carrier.
A low-cost unit, picocells help improve coverage indoors by connecting to a base station controller. The controller then connects to the mobile network, utilizing hand-over functions, data aggregation, and resource management.
Signal Boosters and Routers
Consumer-class signal boosters and routers are mostly beneficial for employees who work from home. They help to extend coverage throughout an employee's house or office.
WiFi calling can be greatly beneficial, but a company must first ensure that everything is ready for its adoption. Whichever solution a business chooses — either improving the network or working with mobile operators — it should make sure that any necessary improvements have been made and that the increasing workload will not decrease the efficiency of the IT department.