The 5G Coverage Conundrum

June 4th, 2017

With the emphasis around the next generation wireless improvements, one thing remains clear: Regardless of which generation network you have deployed, wireless coverage continues to be an ongoing and enormous challenge for Mobile Network Operators (MNOs). Moreover, this challenge has not been adequately addressed since first generation wireless networks were launched. Even today, surveys show that 70% of mobile users worldwide are dissatisfied with mobile coverage, and up to 20% have poor to no mobile coverage at home. It is unlikely that this dynamic will magically change with the emergence of 5G.

 The 5G Coverage Conundrum

Traditionally, MNOs have turned to DAS, small cells and cell splitting to address indoor coverage issues. But all are all expensive and limited. In the future 5G world, how can a MNO address these coverage issues?

Indoor Coverage Improvement

Wi-Fi Access Points at home, business and public locations are the ultimate small cell, numbering more than 500 million worldwide. An additional 180 million Wi-Fi Access Points are being shipped each year. Harnessing this expanding Wi-Fi coverage presents a great opportunity for MNOs to address in-building coverage issues, increase customer satisfaction, and dramatically increase the customer lifetime value (CLV) of subscribers.

MNOs know that subscribers look for the best coverage solution. They understand that subscribers base their purchasing decision in large part on this criteria alone. So how much does better coverage mean to a MNO? How much does retaining subscribers longer mean in margin?

For example, suppose a MNO could achieve a 5% reduction in subscriber churn by offering Wi-Fi Calling services to its 50K subscribers. Based on the chart in Figure 3 below, that MNO would generate over $525K in additional CLV across their base. If the customer base were 1M subscribers, the additional CLV would surpass $10.5M. View the charts in Figures 3 and 4 for other rates of churn reduction and subscriber quantities.

Figure 2: Churn reduction based CLV increases for subscriber bases of 50K and 100K
Figure 2: Churn reduction based CLV increases for subscriber bases of 50K and 100K
Figure 3: Churn reduction based CLV increases for subscriber bases of 500K and 1M
Figure 3: Churn reduction based CLV increases for subscriber bases of 500K and 1M

These charts definitively show the power of how churn reduction impacts the bottom line. To capture those lost revenues, a MNO simply needs to determine the best path to Wi-Fi Calling implementation.

Implementing Wi-Fi Calling

The 5G network is ready and the value of the Wi-Fi Calling is proven. But unfortunately, when it comes to implementing Wi-Fi Calling, most MNOs are under two grave misconceptions:

  1. Wi-Fi Calling cannot be supported on Android as the vast majority of Android devices do not offer a “native” implementation of Voice over Wi-Fi, necessitating the use of an Over-the-Top client; and
    Figure 4: OpenSignal’s visualization of 24,093 Android devices in August 2015
    Figure 4: OpenSignal’s visualization of 24,093 Android devices in August 2015
  2. Implementing Wi-Fi Calling is a multi-year project that will consume immense quantities of human and monetary capital to implement due to its reliance on an IMS core.

Let’s dispel those misconceptions, as Sonus has the right solution to rapidly deploy Wi-Fi Calling for both Mobile Network Operators and Mobile Virtual Network Operators.

Sonus Mobile Client: The Sonus Mobile Client is a downloadable client for Android devices that enables a true native calling and messaging experience. Your subscriber’s Android experience is completely unchanged.

Figure 5: Native Implementation of Sonus Wi-Fi Calling Solution
Figure 5: Native Implementation of Sonus Wi-Fi Calling Solution

The Sonus Mobile Client is available for, and works on, all Android operating systems from Android 4.1 onwards, regardless of handset manufacturer or model. The Sonus Mobile Client complies with mobile industry standards for Wi-Fi Calling and is compatible with standard IMS infrastructures from nearly every leading mobile core network provider, including the Sonus Virtual Mobile Core.

Sonus Virtual Mobile Core (VMC): The Sonus VMC eliminates the need for complex, expensive, and time consuming IMS deployments by combining standard IMS functions into a single virtual software solution. The VMC also supports the Sonus Mobile Client for Wi-Fi as well as other native clients provided by device manufacturers, such as those on the Apple iPhone 5c and later, and a few high-end Android phones. By deploying the Sonus VMC, MNOs can implement Wi-Fi Calling within 100 days.

Conclusion

You can now easily overcome any objections for Wi-Fi Calling since the script has been flipped. Wi-Fi Calling can now be provided to all your Android subscribers at a fraction of both cost and time previously required. The question therefore is no longer whether you can justify the investment required to support Wi-Fi Calling for your customer base. It is now about whether you can afford not to!

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