Reliance Jio, the third largest telecom operator in the country, began testing its VoWiFi (voice over Wi-Fi) service, in July and was expected to launch the service in the next few months. Now, the operator has been spotted testing the feature once again, indicating an imminent launch in the country.
The telco has been spotted testing the service once again in Madhya Pradesh, and according to TelecomTalk, the test is being carried out in various circles including Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Kerala. Nikhil Sharma, one of the readers of the publication from Madhya Pradesh, shared a screenshot where one can see an iPhone latching onto Reliance Jio‘s VoWiFi service. This is the first time we have seen wider test of the service, and it only means that Jio is closer to launching the service that it was during the start of this year.
Reliance Jio’s VoWiFi could be available commercially starting January 2019, and is expected to be limited to Jio networks initially. The operator is expected to expand the support to other networks as well. The feature won’t be limited to smartphone and is expected to be enabled on JioPhone as well. Jio sees VoWiFi being a major push for sales of its feature phone, which already enjoys more than one third of sales in India’s feature phone market.
The idea of Voice over WiFi (or VoWiFi) was pushed to the mainstream by Department of Telecommunications. The service allows subscribers to make calls over their wireless network using Wi-Fi connectivity in scenarios where there is no cellular connection. With governments plan to deploy free Wi-Fi across the country, the feature is seen as a big feature for both smartphone and feature phone users with spotty network connectivity.
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Economic Times reported that Reliance Jio has already completed security testing as per DoT’s norms but is not alone. Both Bharti Airtel and Vodafone are also testing VoWiFi service in the country. DoT amended the license conditions for allowing internet telephony in the country in June. The draft suggested such technologies will benefit from government’s Public Open Wi-Fi project. With Jio nearing commercial deployment, it is possible that other operators will push with their plans as well.