Smart makes first successful 'Voice over Wifi' call in PH

MANILA, Philippines – Smart Communications and technology partner Huawei announced via an emailed statement that they have made the first successful "Voice over Wifi" (VoWifi) call over the Smart network. 

VoWifi or Wifi Calling allows customers to place calls while connected to Wifi, using only the native dialer of a Wifi calling-capable phone without the need for third-party apps. With this ability, customers can bypass the need for a traditional mobile network to make calls. Users only need to find a Wifi connection to call a person through their phone number, or receive calls themselves. 

Video calls will also be possible through Wifi calling, said Smart. 

To be clear, the service is not yet available commercially but will be coming soon. "We look forward to letting our customers make Wifi calls on PLDT Home and Smart Wifi soon,” said Mario Tamayo, PLDT and Smart Senior Vice President for Network Planning and Engineering. 

Tamayo also said that the upcoming product is is part of their strategy to use "both fixed and wireless networks to provide more converged products," and that they continue to "revolutionize" their network to deliver more relevant services in the future such as 5G. 

The successful VoWiFi test follows 2017's first successful Voice over LTE (VoLTE) call made by the same network. VoLTE allows users to receive and make calls via 4G or LTE, and enables users to transmit calls using a VoLTE-capable phone without switching to an older network standard. Traditionally, phones drop the 4G connection while making a call; VoLTE allows phones to stay on the 4G network. 

VoLTE calls are also said to have clearer audio quality thanks to LTE's ability to efficiently carry data. 

Smart's capital expenditures is expected to grow this year to P58 billion from 2017's P40 billion as Smart continues their push for network transformation. In the short term, the investment has appeared to have borne fruit as industry monitor OpenSignal's latest report points out that Smart has faster LTE download speeds nationwide at 12.48Mbps over Globe's 7.69Mbps. –

Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.